Leadership changes are taking shape at the Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties during the next month, with Executive Director Tammy Nicholl stepping down to move into the private sector in direct client services.
The board approved at their last meeting a new executive director for the organization — Dr. Adam Sorensen, who has worked at the MHDAS Board since 2018 as the director of treatment and recovery. Just in the last month, the Mechanicsburg resident also attained his doctorate in health care administration from Franklin University. He moves into the new position July 1.
“I’m just so grateful that I get to serve our community in this role. It’s a privilege and an honor,” Sorensen said.
“There are so many people in so many different fields that we get to work with. It’s truly an amazing experience. We get to see people who are so skilled in their fields and are helping others thrive, including the interactions of the judges in their courtrooms, local employers with their staff and many others.”
“I have a great peace about everything. We’re in a good place here and it feels like a good time to make the transition,” said Nicholl, who has served as executive director for the past five years, and has worked at the MHDAS Board since 2005, previously serving as the director of service systems.
“Adam is ready to take it on and has new and different ideas to try.”
A longtime Logan County resident who resides in rural West Liberty, Nicholl said she informed the board late last year about her desire to step down in the upcoming months so that she could move into direct client services. She is assisting the board and Sorensen as he moves into the new position.
Her last day at the MHDAS Board is July 14. She said she is looking forward to serving the needs of the community as a life coach at the new SOZO Center, 661 S. Main St., Bellefontaine, opened by Shannon Maier and Journey Living Ministries. The SOZO Center “aims to give hope to the hurting and healing to the broken-hearted,” according to Journey Living’s Facebook page.
“I’ve missed working in direct services and helping people. This has been on my heart for awhile,” said Nicholl, who is a licensed social worker and has a counseling background.
“Now I can make a difference in a new way, by working with individuals and families. The need in the community is huge. I also get to share my faith more freely.”
At the same time, Nicholl noted that she will continue serving as the coordinator for the LOSS Team, or Local Outreach to Survivors of Suicide, a group of volunteers that serves Logan and Champaign counties. The trained team responds at any hour of the day after being notified by law enforcement or coroner of a suicide death to meet with and provide support to loved ones.
“I’m looking forward to continuing in that role and being able to invest even more time into it,” she said, noting that she also has been re-appointed to another term on the West Central Ohio Community Corrections Board as well.
A Benjamin Logan High School graduate who holds a master’s of public administration, Nicholl said prior to starting at the MHDAS Board, she has worked at several other area agencies, including as the director of the Logan County Family & Children First, along with Logan County Job & Family Services and Adriel.
Sorensen, a native of Pennsylvania, said he attended Mt. Vernon Nazarene University to study theology, and that’s where he met his wife. After spending some time in Licking County, where he worked at a corrections facility offering programming and also was employed as a school counselor, his family moved to Mechanicsburg to be closer to his wife’s family.
Prior to his start at the MHDAS Board, Sorensen was a clinical director at Oesterlen Services for Youth in Clark County.
“The kids in residential care stole my heart right away,” he said. “It was quite the happening place. We even started a garden there.”
While at Oesterlen, Sorensen said he discovered he is a “systems guy” with a passion for examining how to make sweeping positive changes to systemic practices.
“When you look at the systems in place and you see how you can improve that in the community and make changes, I thrive on that challenge,” he said. “There are so many issues that have roots in untreated mental health conditions. We have to look for those common vulnerabilities.”
The incoming executive director praised the advancements made under Nicholl’s leadership, including new providers, funding and grants.
“There are so many opportunities to get involved. Our peer support programs has grown five to six times in recent years, and medication-assisted treatment has grown as well.”
Nicholl noted the growing importance of mental health in the community, “all eyes are on it” and the challenges that lay ahead.
“The need for our services has expanded exponentially. The funds used to be the biggest challenge. Now the mental health and addiction funds are more readily available, but the challenge has become the workforce shortage — finding people to carry out the work.”
The MHDAS offices are located at 1521 N. Detroit St., West Liberty, and website is available at https://www.mhdas.org/. Officials note the national suicide and crisis hotline is available by dialing or texting 988. The 24/7 crisis hotline is (800) 224-0422 or text “4HOPE” to 741 741.