Dauphin County Commissioners appoint Andrea Kepler to lead Mental Health, Autism, and Developmental Programs Department
HARRISBURG, PA (September 30, 2020) – Andrea Kepler, LMSW, ACSW, the former director of a shelter program in New York and Chief Executive Officer of public psychiatric hospital, has been appointed to head Dauphin County’s Mental Health, Autism, and Developmental Programs Department.
Kepler, a resident of Dauphin County, most recently served as a Residence Director for Bronx Works, Inc., overseeing the operation of a 200-bed shelter serving adult men with serious mental illness who are substance users and are working toward achieving permanent housing. Prior to moving to shelter services, Kepler was the Clinical Coordinator for Adult Homeless Street Outreach in the Bronx, where she was also a member of a mobile crisis unit. She previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Wernersville State Hospital, where she managed a 266-bed psychiatric hospital, 580 employees and an annual budget exceeding $50 million; Executive Director of the Community Resource Team for Pennsylvania’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; and, as Assistant CEO for Social and Rehabilitative Services at the former Harrisburg State Hospital. Kepler also served on the county’s MH/MR Advisory Board from 2001 to 2010.
“We are fortunate to have someone as dedicated and knowledgeable as Andrea Kepler to lead Dauphin County’s Mental Health, Autism, and Developmental Programs Department,’’ said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III, who oversees the county’s human services. “Her extensive experience in the field will allow us to continue providing high quality of services to residents while strengthening and expanding partnerships in the community.”
Kepler said she plans to continue the work to integrate the county’s mental health, addiction, and re-entry services.
Another priority, Kepler says, is continuing to expand Dauphin County’s co-responder team model for law enforcement to help officers respond to calls involving individuals with a mental health and/or substance use disorder. The co-responder team model is one of the recommendations in Dauphin County’s Stepping-Up initiative, the goal of which is to reduce the number of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system.
“The goal is to reduce the number of people with mental illness in prison without compromising public safety,” said Dauphin County Board Chairman Jeff Haste. “Andrea has the experience to link our services with those in need, including our ongoing cooperation with the courts, the criminal justice system and law enforcement.”
Under her leadership, Kepler said she wants to make sure her department is proactive with connecting those who need help with the appropriate services and eliminating the stigma associated with asking for help.
“Every person we serve has a unique story,” said Kepler “It is our challenge to discover that story and maximize its potential.”
Commissioner Mike Pries said Kepler’s forward-thinking approach to providing services is critical.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say mental health is one of the biggest public health issues facing our communities,’’ Pries said. “With her personal and professional experience, I believe Andrea is the right choice to help our residents.’’