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Panelist Bio

Rochelle Head-Dunham, M.D.
Medical Director, Metropolitan Human Services District

Dr. Rochelle Head-Dunham is a New Orleans native who completed a Bachelors of Science degree in Chemistry at Xavier University of New Orleans, an MD degree at Tulane University School of Medicine and Psychiatry Residency training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in Bronx, New York. Dr. Head-Dunham was the first fellow to complete a Substance Abuse Fellowship at Tulane in 1991. She is Board Certified in both Adult General and Addiction Psychiatry.

Dr. Head-Dunham currently serves as the newly appointed Executive Director and Medical Director for Metropolitan Human Services District, the Local Governance Entity tasked with service delivery for persons suffering from Mental Illness, Addictive Disorders and Developmental Disabilities within the tri-parish areas of Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. Her past immediate appointments were Assistant Secretary and Medical Director for the Office of Behavioral Health within the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. In her DHH role, she provided statewide behavioral health leadership as both the appointed State Commissioner of Mental Health for the National Association of Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) and the Louisiana Single State Agency Director for the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD). Her academic appointment as Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry is served at both Tulane and LSU Schools of Medicine.

Dr. Head-Dunham’s academic leadership has served as a bridge for the behavioral health (substance use and mental illness) knowledge chiasm, pioneering statewide advances in knowledge, skills and application of standards of care for co-occurring mental and addictive disorders. Her work in this area has been foundational to statewide readiness, for Louisiana’s aggressive move to fully reform and integrate physical and behavioral healthcare systems. Her anchoring to the commitment of holistic healthcare care has expanded her reach to engage national attention and support for state and local integrative efforts. Her transformative leadership style galvanizes and motivates buy-in for shared vision by the members of her team. Relationship building with a focus on organizing, supporting and developing those in her employ is a priority. Dr. Head-Dunham’s pragmatic style has fostered inter and intra departmental collaborations resulting in systematic unprecedented changes within the new construct of Louisiana statewide integrated management of primary and behavioral healthcare. In her newly appointed role, Dr. Head-Dunham’s Vision centers around “building the core” of her agency and “expanding” partnerships and collaborations.”

Dr. Head-Dunham currently serves as a Governor’s appointee to the Medicaid Pharmacy and Therapeutics (P&T) Committee and the HIV Commission. Dr. Head-Dunham in prior years, managed a very robust solo Private Practice in New Orleans for 15 years. In addition to her publications and research accomplishments, Dr. Head-Dunham is a member of several professional, medical and civic organizations, including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. She is a practicing member of the Baptist faith and serves in leadership positions at her local church. She currently resides in New Orleans with her husband and two daughters.

Current Topic

     01/18 - Early Education Matters

Should early childhood education be a priority?
It’s estimated that issues with early childhood education cost the state economy more than $1 billion per year. Business professionals and politicians agree that there is a severe lack of access to high-quality child care in the state. But with the state facing a $1 billion budget shortfall, can funds be found to make this a priority?

Louisiana School Finder, a first-of-its-kind performance guide on early care and education centers is a useful tool for parents seeking care for their children. Can it also be a mechanism to improve performance? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “Early Education Matters” January 24th at 7 p.m. on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE.

Our panelists are:

· Melanie Bronfin, La. Policy Institute for Children

· Rep. Stephen Carter, R-Baton Rouge; Education Committee

· Stephen Waguespack, La. Assoc. of Business & Industry

· Supt. John White, La. Dept. of Education

Barry Erwin, CEO of the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) moderates the discussion.

The program includes interviews with Belinda Creel Davis, Ph.D., with the LSU Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs and co-author of the Losing Ground study of childcare issues and workforce productivity in Louisiana; Melinda George, Child Care Assistance Manager with the La. Dept. of Education; Brigitte Nieland, V.P. for Workforce and Education for the La. Assoc. of Business & Industry: and Shawanda Jefferson, a mother whose improved employment status has put her Child Care Assistance Program benefits in jeopardy.
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