Board Members of New Jersey Mental Health Institute


We are proud of the impact accomplished by the New Jersey Mental Health Institute (NJMHI) in New Jersey, throughout the nation and internationally since it was established by the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA) in 2000. Our mission has been to promote quality mental health and substance use services through training, technical assistance, research, and policy development.

Among NJMHI’s many achievements, the most striking examples are:

  • Training series on evidence-based practices geared toward serving veterans, active military and their families, prompted by a 2010 report from the Veterans Administration that less than 30 percent of these individuals receive services
  • Free and low-cost statewide conferences aimed at improving mental health service delivery through cultural competence to diverse racial and ethnic minority groups and to individuals from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities
  • Award-winning and nationally and internationally recognized Changing Minds, Advancing Mental Health for Hispanics project, which aimed to enhance resources for New Jersey’s Hispanic communities and the providers who serve them, and led to NJMHI also doing business as the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health to expand the initiatives and impact for the entire nation’s Hispanic population
  • Policy recommendations that led to the establishment of state-funded centers that provide what is now required cultural competence training to assist all providers in becoming accessible to all individuals
  • Sri Lanka Mental Health Relief Project, which was launched shortly after the December 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia to provide tri-lingual training in Sri Lanka to recognize symptoms of mental illnesses and refer individuals to treatment when needed: This training was followed by the creation of tri-lingual educational brochures in 2012 and more on-site training in 2019. The initial training positively impacted more than 200,000 individuals and the final phase benefited 50 families (250 individuals) directly and 1,500 families indirectly.

We launched the NJMHI Leadership Academy for Behavioral Healthcare Professionals and it has grown significantly from the first to the second cohorts.

Please see the inspiring details of these initiatives in the Programs section of this website.

NJMHI is eager to undertake new initiatives to promote quality mental health, eliminate stigma and discrimination, and dismantle barriers, especially for underserved populations, to accessing treatment and support services.

Debra L. Wentz, PhD            Kendria McWilliams, MBA             Deborah Megaro, MBA
Executive Director                NJMHI Board Chair                        NJMHI Board Vice Chair

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Please contact Dr. Debra Wentz via e-mail at


Advisory Board Members

Kemi Alli, MD, President & CEO, Henry J. Austin Health Center
Governor Chris Christie, Managing Partner, Christie Institute for Public Policy
Mary Jo Codey, Former First Lady of New Jersey
Ron Manderscheid, PhD, Former Executive Director, National Association of County Behavioral Health     and Developmental Disability Directors and National Association for Rural Mental Health
Governor James E. McGreevey, Chairman of the Board, NJ Reentry Corporation