Fellowship Openings

Reforming Behavioral Healthcare Services for Justice-Involved Residents (CLOSED)

Project: Reforming Behavioral Healthcare Services for Justice-Involved Residents

Agency: District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health

Location: Washington, DC

Project Context

In the District of Columbia, one in eight adults has a criminal record and one in 22 is under some form of correctional control. As such, justice-involved residents are inextricably intertwined with the larger community and can be affected by a broad array of policy decisions. To ensure these individuals’ successful return to the community, the DC Auditor recently recommended that the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) and the Executive Office of the Mayor work to better provide and oversee a continuum of behavioral health and others services for justice-involved individuals from pre-arrest to post-incarceration. These changes must be addressed in one of the most complex policy environments in the nation, as the District is in the unique position of relying on a mix of city and federal authorities to execute full-surround services and oversight.

DBH is responsible for mental health and substance use disorder services for the District, overseeing a full array of services covering prevention, early intervention, and treatment for mental health and substance use disorder services. The department has recently developed the new Forensic Services Division to standardize and professionalize the forensic function of behavioral health intervention. This change presents a challenge, as DBH must commit to providing programmatic and educational support for all of its 29,000 consumers while simultaneously serving the important needs of those who are justice-involved. Integrating mental health and substance use treatment services while reforming forensic services—which overlap with both and generally have a higher standard of care—is fraught with complexity, nuance, and risk. It is critical that the District undertake these reforms in a thoughtful, data-driven, and urgent fashion.

To support this work, the District of Columbia will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one year who will work across agencies and sectors to forge lasting practices and protocols to help reform the behavioral health aspect of the city’s criminal justice system. The fellow will provide support and direction to continue shaping the new Forensic Services Division into a unit with a cohesive structure, proactive stakeholder engagement, and dedication to best practices.

Project Summary & Potential Deliverables

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.

Starting in September 2018, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will work toward making DBH’s new Forensic Services Division into one of the premier such offices in the country. This will involve working closely with a wide array of stakeholders to ensure that qualified staff are equipped to provide consistent service and that all of the community partners and stakeholders are engaged in the process. The result will be that the District will prioritize pre-arrest diversion and will support people who are involved in the criminal justice system to navigate that system, get  behavioral health services  while in the criminal justice system, and get out of the system as quickly as possible.

The most intensive aspect of this fellowship will be building the internal cohesion within the Forensic Services Division that will then translate into external consensus and enable successful partnerships with outside stakeholders. One element of this work is creating a standard training to apply across the Division so that staff based in all various contexts—at the hospital or the urgent care clinic or the court—are held to the same standards of screening and reporting. The goal is to develop consistency in the methods used by all of the Division’s evaluators, so that courts can be confident that assessments are based on uniform standards and internal staff can have clear direction for their evaluation work.

Imposing this type of change within a multi-faceted system of experienced employees presents a management challenge that the fellow should be uniquely equipped to approach with sensitivity. The fellow will be tasked with understanding a complicated policy landscape that incorporates various federal and local perspectives. There is a need to respect the local culture and discern how on-the-ground realities differ from conclusions in the research. Tapping into a background in change management, the fellow will have the ability to see the long-term consequences of the work. The fellow will do this work recognizing the complex, interdependent policy landscape means that change brings a high risk for unintended consequences to any number of stakeholders.

Success in this project will be evaluated in terms of the fellow’s ability to be instrumental in helping DBH refine a collaborative, effective, and organized Forensic Services Division:

  • Provide Strategic Leadership Support: Alongside the existing senior leadership, define and implement a cohesive mission, vision, values, organizational structure, and standardized procedures for the Forensic Services Division within DBH.
  • Forge Partnerships: Shape, stabilize, and develop a core group of stakeholders who are all aligned on key best practices in behavioral healthcare services for forensics and justice-involved individuals, including federal courts and prosecutors, local prosecutors and justice system partners, and criminal-justice reform advocates.
  • Identify and Troubleshoot Problems: Develop and implement strategies to address systemic and institutional issues within justice-involved services as they become clear throughout the course of refining the Forensic Services Division’s operations.
  • Develop Data-tracking Methods: Create performance metrics and build data infrastructure to track data and information against those metrics, including a crucial standardized training to apply across all aspects of the Forensic Services Division.
  • Strategize on Change Management: Develop and implement change management strategies to address cultural shifts within government as a result of changes in the approach to forensic behavioral health and social justice, with particular regard to the potential long-term and unexpected consequences of these reforms on a wide array of stakeholders.

 Key Stakeholders

  • Rashad M. Young, City Administrator, District of Columbia
  • HyeSook Chung, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, District of Columbia
  • Tanya Royster, Director, District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health
  • Jay Melder, Chief of Staff to Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, District of Columbia Executive Office of the Mayor
  • Amelia Whitman, Health Policy Advisor to Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, District of Columbia Executive Office of the Mayor


  • At least 15 years of professional experience in change management, organizational design and cross-sector collaboration. Experience or exposure to the criminal justice system preferred but not required.
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
  • Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
  • Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
  • Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
  • Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.

 To Apply

Click the link below to upload a resume and complete the online application questions in lieu of a cover letter. The application process will allow you to indicate interest in more than one fellowship opportunity. You only need to submit one application. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as selections will be made on a rolling basis and specific opportunities may close quickly.

A FUSE Fellowship is a 12-month engagement requiring fellows be primarily committed to their partnership with the government agency throughout the year to ensure the success of their project. Fellows are retained as independent contractors of FUSE Corps and are paid an annual stipend of $90,000 through monthly installments. This commitment begins on September 24, 2018 and ends September 20th, 2019.

The FUSE Fellowship is an equal opportunity program with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives. We strongly encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply.