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.
Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?
In 2017, Louisiana’s legislature passed the Justice Reinvestment Act, which sought to reduce the state’s highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate. The bill was championed by Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards and received bipartisan support including from community and business leaders. Now, just over a year later, the legislation has become a political football. State Attorney General Jeff Landry and Senator John Kennedy, both Republicans considering a run against Edwards in 2019, suggest that the reform package is a failure. They cite murders committed by two inmates released since the Act’s implementation.
Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended? Has the legislation put more residents in harm’s way or are plea deals part of the problem?
Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “Revisiting Reform” Wednesday, September 26 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE.
Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.