Fall 2022 Forum

Michigan Health Policy Forum
A Non-Partisan Venue to Discuss Health Policy
Hosted by Michigan State University


The Michigan Health Policy Forum announces its Fall 2022 Forum:

Solutions to the Children's Mental Health Crisis: Busting Barriers, Reducing Stigma and Improving Access

Monday, October 3, 2022
1:00-4:30 PM


This Forum will be held in-person at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in Big Ten Rooms A & B, 219 S. Harrison Rd. East Lansing, MI 48824. We will also be featuring a livestream option for those who wish to attend virtually.


The future of our state and nation depends on the health and well-being of our children. A global pandemic has brought to light the fragile nature of the systems that help keep children healthy and thriving. The pandemic further laid bare and worsened the mental health crisis our children and systems are facing. We are long past the point as a state and nation to debate the magnitude or urgency of this problem. Please join us and our expert presenters to learn about the status of the health of Michigan’s children and strategies that can be replicated and/or expanded in communities throughout Michigan.


This Forum has concluded.

A recording of the session can be found here.


Speaker Slide Shows:

Dr. Melinda J Baldwin, MSW, PhD

Dr. Diane Golzynski, PhD, RDN, SNS

Dana R. Lasenby, MBA, MA, LLP

Jody Sprague, LMSW

Dr. Lisa M. Lowery, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM 

Kevin Fischer

Dr. Natalie Kasiborski, LMSW, MPH, PhD



Dean Aron Sousa

Dr. Aron Sousa, MD, FACP

Dean, MSU College of Human Medicine

Aron Sousa, MD, FACP, is the dean of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. His appointment was approved by the MSU Board of Trustees on April 22, 2022, making him the seventh dean of the medical school.

Sousa served as interim dean for the medical school from November 2019 through April 2022, and prior to that, from June 2015 through September 2016. Dr. Sousa also has held the position of senior associate dean for academic affairs for 11 years.

In his previous role as senior associate dean, Sousa was responsible for the medical education programs of the college’s seven community campuses across Michigan. During that time, he managed the doubling of the college’s class size and converting its two-year, 60 student Grand Rapids campus into a four-year, 350 student campus. He also led the creation of four new, two- year clinical campuses in Traverse City, Midland, Southeast Michigan and Detroit, Mich.

Most of Dr. Sousa’s work is in medical education and curriculum. He led the design of the college’s highly successful Shared Discovery Curriculum and regularly serves as a site team member for the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. As the leader of the college’s $30 million expansion in Flint, Mich., Dr. Sousa was the PI on the C.S. Mott Foundation grants that led to the college establishing the College of Human Medicine building and the creation of the Division of Public Health in downtown Flint.

Dr. Sousa is a practicing general internist. He received his bachelor’s and his medical degrees from Indiana University School of Medicine. He then served as both a resident and chief resident in internal medicine and completed a primary care fellowship at Michigan State University.


Dr. Melinda Baldwin

Dr. Melinda J Baldwin, MSW, PhD
Director, Division of Prevention, Traumatic Stress, & Special Programs in the Center for Mental Health Services at SAMHSA

Dr. Melinda J Baldwin is the Director of the Division of Prevention, Traumatic Stress, & Special Programs in the Center for Mental Health Services at SAMHSA. Dr. Baldwin is a subject matter expert in behavioral health, trauma, program evaluation (grounded in implementation science), in the intersection with child welfare/maltreatment and mental health practice and policy. She has had extensive field experience in working with children and families in the intersection of child maltreatment and children’s mental health. Dr. Baldwin has a PhD in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an MSW from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is licensed as a clinical social worker in Illinois. 

Diane Golzynski

Dr. Diane Golzynski, PhD, RDN, SNS

Director of the Office of Health and Nutrition Services and the State Child Nutrition Director, Michigan Department of Education

Dr. Golzynski is the Directorof the Office of Health and Nutrition Services and the State Child Nutrition Directorat the Michigan Department of Education. She is responsible for theUSDA child nutritionprograms,the USDA Commodity household programs,andthe School Health and Safety Programs which includes mental and behavioral health, youth suicide prevention, bullying prevention, HIV and sex education, nutrition, physical, and health education, and chronic absenteeism.





Dana Lasenby

Dana R. Lasenby, MBA, MA, LLP

Executive Director and CEO, Oakland Community Health Network

Dana Lasenby is a Behavioral Health Care Executive and Limited Licensed Psychologist with more than 25 years of experience in the public and private sector of the behavioral healthcare industry. Her unique set of administrative, clinical, managerial, operational skills, and attributes is critical to the management of one of the largest public community mental health systems.

Lasenby’s extensive expertise serves as the foundation for the vital role of Executive Director and CEO of Oakland Community Health Network (OCHN). Under her guidance, OCHN identifies, influences, and delivers services to more than 23,000 Oakland County residents. These individuals include adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD); adults with serious mental illness (SMI), children with serious emotional disturbance (SED) and individuals with substance use disorders (SUD).

In addition to overseeing OCHN’s administrative staff of approximately180 people, Dana works closely with the organization’s service provider agencies, Board of Directors, people receiving services, community partners, and state legislators. She ensures concerns are addressed, solutions are initiated, and that Oakland County citizens in need of behavioral health assistance receive quality services that promote independence, inclusion, and equality.

Dana holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Michigan State University; a master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Western Michigan University; a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix; and is completing a doctoral program in Industrial – Organizational Psychology from Walden University. She also was appointed by Governor, Gretchen Whitmer to serve on the Michigan Autism Council.

Most recently, Dana was named a 2021 Healthcare Rising Star by Crain’s Detroit Business Magazine. Both her personal and professional experiences have led her to the path of ensuring OCHN maintains its’ vision to be a national leader in the delivery of quality integrated physical and behavioral health supports and services, by responding to the community's needs and empowering people to achieve the lives that are important to them.

 Audrey Smith

Audrey E. Smith, MPH

Executive Vice President/COO, Family Medical Center of Michigan Inc.

Audrey E. Smith, MPH has twenty-eight (28) years of successful health care administration experience with leading edge health care delivery systems, entrepreneurship, and public health and community mental health administration in multi-racial communities. In depth knowledge and expertise in health care delivery systems, prepaid inpatient health plans, and community base care management. Highly skilled in leading transformational change for large complex organizations. Demonstrated ability in budget, financial, and grants program management. Proven strength in establishing relationships, communicate effectively at all levels and leading multidisciplinary teams.

She currently serves as the Executive Vice President/COO for Family Medical Center of Michigan Inc. (FMC). Audrey is responsible for providing strategic planning, leadership, management of the day to day effective and efficient operations of primary care; behavioral health; dental; OB/GYN; and school based behavioral health centers. Under Audrey’s leadership, FMC has expanded its school based behavioral health program, “Someone To Talk To” to fifty-two (52) schools throughout Monroe, Lenawee and Detroit Public School Community District.  Audrey was initiated in the arena of behavioral health as the Director, Integrated Healthcare Initiatives for the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority. 

As Director, she developed and implemented the initiative to change the paradigm of mental health delivery to include a focus on the primary health care needs of people with mental illness, intellectual developmental disability, and substance use disorder. Audrey has been a leader for the state on behalf of the behavioral health prepaid inpatient health plan in implementing the “Integrated Health Care Program for Persons with Enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid”. Prior to these positions, Audrey held a civil servant position as General Manager for Community Health and Prevention Services for the City of Detroit, Department of Health and Wellness Promotion. As General Manager, she was responsible for administrative leadership, financial accountability and program outcomes of community health services for the City of Detroit. 

Audrey is the founder and Executive Director of The Angel Engagement Group, LLC is a pioneer in the area of patient health and community navigation through coordination of appropriate services in a culturally competent manner. The Angel Engagement Group, works with health plans and health organizations improving the health and well-being of people with disability, age, color or religion and managing health care costs through community based care coordination. Audrey started her healthcare administration career as an Administrative Fellow at Henry Ford Health System. Then served as Emergency Department Supervisor, and Administrator for the Department of Pediatrics. As Administrator, she coordinated a collaborative effort with three (3) major health systems and the local public health department in Michigan to develop and implement $7.5 million immunization demonstration grant award by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Audrey completed her Master’s Degree in Public Health in 1991 from the University of Michigan, School of Public Health. She received her Bachelors of Science in 1988 from the Michigan State University. She and Curtis are life-long residents of Detroit, MI and have been married for 27 years. She and Curtis have two children, Naomi, age 26, Joseph, age 23, and nephew Evan, age 19. 


Jody Sprague

Jody Sprague, LMSW

Spectrum Health's Program Manager for School-Based Suicide Prevention

Jody Sprague, LMSW, is Spectrum Health’s Program Manager for School-Based Suicide Prevention. She leads an innovative, collaborative approach to suicide prevention called the School Blue Envelope Program: A Suicide S.A.F.E. Team Response (SBE). This national award-winning program is founded on the premise that “Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Responsibility” and is designed for a multi-disciplinary team response. Jody has trained thousands of leaders and employees within local schools as well as health care services to strategically implement suicide prevention team responses while keeping everyone S.A.F.E! Jody has 35 years of experience in behavioral health which includes leadership roles in the emergency department, clinical program development, health system education, and community collaboration for suicide prevention.


Dr. Lisa Lowery

Dr. Lisa M. Lowery, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM 

Section Chief of Adolescent Medicine and Assistant Dean for Diversity and Cultural Initiatives, MSU College of Human Medicine

Dr. Lisa Lowery, a Grand Rapids native, received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Microbiology, with Honors from Michigan State University. Dr. Lowery received her medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School. She completed a combined Internal Medicine and Pediatric Residency program at Spectrum Health-Butterworth Michigan State University/Grand Rapids. Dr. Lowery completed a subspecialty fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. While at the Johns Hopkins, she obtained a Master of Public Health in the Department of Population and Family Health Sciences.

Currently, Dr. Lowery is the Section Chief of Adolescent Medicine and Assistant Dean for Diversity and Cultural Initiatives Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. Dr. Lowery is an Associate Program Director for the Combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program. She is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Department of Pediatrics and Human Development.  

Dr. Lowery is passionate about community service. She is the president of the West Michigan Medical Society/National Medical Association and serves on the Urban League of West Michigan Board of Directors, in June 2022 becoming president of the Urban’s Board of Directors.  Dr. Lowery also serves the Cherry Health Foundation Board, Wedgewood Christian Services Board of Directors and Grand Rapids LGBTQ Health Consortium Board of Directors. She is a member of True Light Baptist Church.

Dr. Lowery has a servant and democratic leadership style and a passion for clinical education. She sees herself as a clinician educator around issues of adolescent medicine including eating disorders, gender affirming care and reproductive health. Additionally, her passion for diversity and inclusion, has led her to work on improving the learning and work environment for medical students and residents. Dr. Lowery is also developing faculty projects to enhance the skills and knowledge of faculty to have conversations around microaggression, unconscious bias, and allyship.

Kevin Fischer

Kevin Fischer

Executive Director, NAMI Michigan

Kevin Fischer is the Executive Director of NAMI Michigan. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. A retired businessman, Kevin joined NAMI as a volunteer in 2011 after his oldest son Dominique was diagnosed with serious mental illness in late 2007 and was lost to suicide in 2010. After serving on the NAMI Michigan Board of Directors as the NAMIWalks Chairperson for two years, and as Board Vice-President for two years, Kevin accepted the role of Executive Director in 2014.

A mental health and suicide prevention advocate, Kevin is also the Founder and Director of The Dominique Fischer Memorial Foundation, CEO of EVERYBODY -VS- STIGMA.com, President of Crisis Intervention Team International (CITI), a member of Governor Whitmer’s Suicide Prevention Commission and the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) Mental Health Diversion Council and Behavioral Health Advisory Council (BHAC), Disability Rights Michigan’s (DRM) Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Advisory Board. Kevin is also the recipient of the 2022 NAMI Vicki Cottrell Award. Quoted as saying “this is his last job; his last fight,” Kevin is dedicated to eliminating the stigma of mental illness, which he considers the leading barrier to the early diagnoses and treatment which leads to better outcomes for all.

 Natalie Kasiborski Headshot

Dr. Natalie Kasiborski, LMSW, MPH, PhD

Assistant Professor, MSU College of Human Medicine in the Division of Public Health and Consultant, School Community Health Alliance of Michigan

Natalie Kasiborski is a dedicated public health consultant with more than 15 years of experience working in the public health arena as an expert educator, clinical social worker, agency leader and program director specializing in rural and mental health. Upon first being hired at a local public health department, she worked as a school based mental health provider serving youth ages 5-21 at a Child and Adolescent Health Center in rural Northern Michigan, sparking a passion for school-based health that has been a driving force throughout her career.

During her tenure in local public health, she helped to significantly expand school-based child and adolescent health programming, securing multiple state and federal grants and leading initiatives to both provide direct services and to implement policy, systems and environmental change strategies. Now through her work with the School Community Health Alliance of Michigan, she provides technical assistance around school based mental health to programs, schools and providers across the State of Michigan.

Recently, she was named to the “40 under 40” list by the De Beaumont Foundation, an honor awarded to recognize leaders whose creativity and innovation are strengthening communities, innovating bold solutions, improving health and changing lives. Dr Kasiborski is also an assistant professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in the Division of Public Health, where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate level courses.

Dr. Kasiborski earned a Doctorate in Social Work and a Masters Degree in Public Health from Michigan State University, and a Masters Degree in Social Work and Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan.



Children's Mental Health in Crisis:

1. A Declaration from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Children’s Hospital Association

2. National Institute of Mental Health- Facebook Live: The Youth Mental Health Crisis

3. Behavioral Health Workforce is a National Crisis: Immediate Policy Actions for States (Health Management Associates; October 2021):

4. Children's Mental Health Is in Crisis- Here are 7 things we can do right now to help.

5. Michigan (Still) Falls Short on Mental Health Services

6. Lack of mental health support has come at a significant cost for Michigan students


Children’s Mental Health Resources:

1. CMS: States Can Act Now to Keep Medicaid Enrollees Covered When the Public Health Emergency Ends

2. 5 ways access to mental-health care has improved in Southwest Michigan, and 5 more things in the pipeline

3. Michigan school safety task force prioritizes mental health, building security

4. Michigan school mental health program on track to expand with $50 million funding boost

5. How COVID cash could help Michigan schools tackle a mental health crisis

6. TRAILS improves access

7. Behavioral Health Learning Collaborative (BHLC) of Michigan

8. Finding Your Place 2021: Social Emotional Learning Takes Center Stage in K-12

9. 'Michigan Model' national pilot program to help curb acts of mass violence


Children’s Mental Health Data:

1. Child and Adolescent Mental Health as a Result of COVID: a Michigan Perspective