Two Catholic Charities directors to be honored as mental health leaders

The New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies will honor two Catholic Charities employees next week as leaders in the mental health field.

Crystal Smith (pictured, right), director of our PACT teams, will receive a Frontline Leadership Recognition Award.

Susan Loughery (pictured, below), our Director of Operations, will receive a Leadership and Advocacy Recognition Award.

Both awards will be presented during NJAMHAA’s annual membership meeting (to be held on Zoom) on June 17.

A leader on the front lines

As PACT director, Crystal oversees four PACT (Program for Assertive Community Treatment) teams that serve about 370 people with persistent, serious mental illness and a history of psychiatric hospitalization. PACT staff work to ensure clients can live independently in the community.

Crystal will be honored for her leadership for chairing the PACT Practice Group, a statewide initiative that started in January with the goal of bringing a unified approach to lobbying lawmakers for support and regulation changes. Statewide, there are 30 PACT teams.

The group’s advocacy has centered on loosening the regulations on prescribing medication for PACT clients. Regulations now allow only psychiatrists to do that, but as the field of psychiatry shrinks, the PACT Practice Group would like advanced practice nurses to be able to prescribe medication, Crystal said.

Debra Wentz, president and chief executive officer of NJAMHAA, said Crystal is being honored for “effectively facilitating this group, which will undoubtedly achieve significant advocacy achievements and continue to share invaluable information regarding PACT regulations, required documentation and other related issues.”

Crystal said the award “was quite surprising. It’s very nice to be recognized.” Crystal, a Temple University graduate, began her career working in child welfare in Philadelphia before moving into behavioral health in 2006. She has worked for Catholic Charities for 11 years.

A trusted adviser

Susan Loughery co-chairs NJAMHAA’s Finance and Compliance Committee and the Hospital Community Integration Council (HCIC). She also is vice chair of NJAMHAA’s board and chair-elect for 2021.

She’s being honored for “effectively facilitating this group, which has significantly contributed to NJAMHAA’s financial security by making sound recommendations on investments and policies,” Wentz said, adding that Susan “provided excellent input for the development of compelling programs that aim to inspire partnerships such as those through which Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton and other organizations are achieving a tremendous impact on individuals with multiple healthcare needs.”

Susan has over 20 years leadership experience in community behavioral health and human services, with expertise in the areas of Integrated Service Systems, Health Information Technology, Quality Assurance, Data Analytics, Risk Management, Human Resources and Finance. She joined Catholic Charities in 2015. She’s also a member of the Trenton Health Team Board of Directors and participates in national advocacy initiatives through Catholic Charities USA.

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For more information, contact contact Crystal Smith, PACT director in Mercer and Burlington counties, at (609) 396-9777, ext. 2216, or csmith@cctrenton.org; Director of Operations Susan Loughery at sloughery@cctrenton.org; or Dana DiFilippo, Catholic Charities communications, at ddifilippo@cctrenton.org or (215) 756-6277 (cell).

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