Council Connect Articles

Sonoma County Health Services Hosts Regional Behavioral Health Collaborative


  • Sonoma County Health Services 
  • Hospital leaders from Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Marin, Solano, and Sacramento counties 
  • Partnership HealthPlan 
  • Multiple community and advocacy groups 
  • Hospital Council and California Hospital Association


Sonoma County Health Services hosted a Regional Behavioral Health Collaborative to close Mental Health Awareness Month, engaging 200 leaders from northern California and as far as Rhode Island. The event began with a powerful observation from Sonoma County Supervisor Chris Coursey: “I’ll bet there isn’t a person in this room whose life hasn’t been somehow impacted by behavioral health. We all know someone close who has struggled, and we are all here to find a better way.” 

Maurice Lee of Center Point captured the spirit of the day, stating, “I don’t just serve an agency, I serve a community.” His sentiment resonated with all attendees, each dedicated to forging connections to strengthen support for those suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders. 

Several inspiring discussions stood out: 

  • Jodi Nerell, LCSW, Sutter Health, shared stories of individuals who guided her transformational leadership in behavioral health. Where some might run in fear at the enormity of challenges, she leans in and finds solutions. 
  • Commander Leonard LaFrance, Eureka Police Department, discussed his officers’ efforts to build trust in hard-hit communities, emphasizing that “some of the best social workers also happen to be cops.” His officers excel as social workers because they meet people where they are — in shelters, at home, by the waterfront — and can assess situations typically conducted by a traditional social worker. 
  • Elise Jones, Lake County Health Services, highlighted the importance of creating employment pipelines for people with lived experience, noting their status as one of the first felon-friendly behavioral health providers in California. 

Takeaway/Next Steps

Hospital Council looks forward to continuing the conversation and pushing the boundaries of “what we’ve always done” to create better support systems, more access, and more opportunities for our communities. This collaborative was a much-needed conversation starter, but the ongoing work is paramount, and Hospital Council is honored to participate in these conversations throughout northern and central California.


RVP Meghan Hardin at