Mental Health Trust leaders resign while organization undergoes special audit

In the past month, the top three leaders at the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority have submitted letters of resignation. The shake up comes at a time when the organization, which manages funds for mental health and substance abuse programming across the state, is undergoing a special legislative audit over concerns about financial mismanagement.

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Interim CEO Greg Jones was appointed in November to lead the organization after long-time CEO Jeff Jessee was ousted. Jones declined a request for an interview, but in his resignation letter he wrote his action “comes at the request of my family and recommendation of friends.” Chief Operating Officer Steve Williams will be acting CEO as of September 1. The Trust started seeking a permanent CEO in July.

John Morrison, the Executive Director of the Trust Land Office, has also resigned and will leave his job in September. Morrison, at the direction of the Board, helped the TLO pursue a controversial strategy of investing in commercial real estate as a way to increase income for the Trust. Deputy director Wyn Menefee will begin as acting executive director on September 8.

Board Chair Russ Webb will also leave his position in September. The Trust Authority has started recruiting for his replacement.

A special legislative audit of the Trust was authorized in December after allegations the Board “is not managing its assets in compliance with state and federal law,” the audit request says.

In an email, Legislative Auditor Kris Curtis wrote, “The audit is through the planning phase and beginning fieldwork. We hope to have it completed some time in November.”

Anne Hillman is the healthy communities editor at Alaska Public Media and a host of Hometown, Alaska. Reach her at Read more about Anne here.

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