The 2021 CCAO Roster is out now! Click here to access our online version, complete with pictures and contact info for our 282 elected members and more!


Wednesday, May 12, 2021
 9:30 – 10:30 A.M.

DESCRIPTION:  Approximately 2 million times each year, people who have serious mental illnesses are admitted to jails across the nation. Almost three-quarters of these adults also have drug and alcohol use problems. Once incarcerated, individuals with mental illnesses tend to stay longer in jail and upon release are at a higher risk of returning to incarceration than those without these illnesses.

This webinar will discuss the Stepping Up Initiative, a nationwide collaborative to reduce the number of people with mental illness in jails.  Presenters will discuss the implementation of Stepping Up programs in Ohio counties, and describe how counties are setting goals and measuring their progress toward reducing costs and improving post-release outcomes for individuals with mental illness.



Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Retired, served for 16 years as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Ohio and for 7 years as a trial judge. She now devotes most of her time to mental health reforms in the criminal justice system. She established the Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Mental Illness and the Courts, later merged into the Attorney General’s Task Force on Criminal Justice and Mental Illness, which she now continues to co-chair with Attorney General Yost.  She is Project Director of Stepping Up Ohio, which works in over 50 counties and at the state level to assist jail and the community to reverse the trend of those with mental illness cycling through the criminal justice system. She serves on Governor DeWine’s Recovery Ohio Advisory Council, which advises the Governor on addiction and mental health policy issues and heads the Ohio Stepping Up project.


Thom Craig, MPA, is the Director of Mental Health Program of Peg’s Foundation, the largest mental health funder in Northeast Ohio. Peg’s Foundation promotes the implementation of a stronger, more effective, compassionate, and inclusive health care system for all. Peg’s Foundation grants to mental health, education, and the arts. In his role, Thom collaborates with non-profits, community leaders, families and persons with lived experience of mental illness seeking ways to improve access to care and recovery. He evaluates the outcomes of grants, program investments and develops program ideas. Thom consults with grant seekers to ensure alignment with the foundations strategic areas of focus. He pursues methods to increase cross-system collaboration to activate community solutions.


Currently Melissa serves as the Stepping Up Ohio Project Manager for Peg’s Foundation, a private, philanthropic organization committed to creating opportunities for sharing knowledge, promoting partnerships, and inspiring improvements in the behavioral health system. In this role she manages the state-wide Stepping Up Ohio initiative and provides technical assistance focused on justice system related projects to appropriately respond to parties with mental health issues. Melissa was appointed in 2020 by the County Commissioners to the newly created Delaware County Public Defender Commission where she serves as Vice Chair. She also is a certified trainer on Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS) for the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute.


Sally is the President of Luken Solutions and works with organizations and governments to solve social problems in the intersection of housing, homelessness, behavioral health and criminal justice.  With Peg’s Foundation support, Sally is the Housing Consultant for Stepping Up Ohio.  In this role, she leads efforts to develop local strategies to house and reduce jail days for people with mental health disorders.  She is engaged by the Ohio Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-Ohio) for its Fulfilling the Promise Campaign and has trained and assisted over 20 continuums of care across the country in their goal to end homelessness.


Ruth Simera, M.Ed., LSW, is the Executive Director of the Coordinating Centers of Excellence in the Department of Psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Ruth was previously the Director of the Ohio Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence (CJ CCoE) and now oversees the three centers of excellence, including the CJ CCoE, the Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment (BeST) Center and the Ohio Program for Campus Safety and Mental Health.  Under the CJ CCoE, Ruth oversaw the statewide CIT dissemination and technical assistance activities and the Ohio Sequential Intercept Mapping initiative. Previously, Ruth worked 26 years in community mental health, three years in juvenile justice, and ten years as instructor in Applied Conflict Management at Kent State University.

Click here to register for this educational opportunity on Wednesday, May 12, 9:30 – 10:30 am. If you are unable to register with the link, please email Nedra Benson,, CCAO administrative professional, and provide her with your email address.