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UO's Ballmer Institute announces new executive director

(Courtesy University of Oregon)
(Courtesy University of Oregon)
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Less than a year after announcing a $425 million donation from Steve and Connie Ballmer, The Ballmer Institute for Children's Behavioral Health at the University of Oregon has a permanent leader. University Interim President Patrick Phillips announced Katie McLaughlin as the Institute's first executive director.

"You need great people to do great things, but the University of Oregon is really dedicated to using ourselves as a lever arm for doing greater good in the world, and so that needs innovation," Phillips said.

Innovation and a commitment to improving the workforce in children's behavioral and mental health is what inspired McLaughlin to leave her current position as Professor of Psychology and Director of the Stress and Development Laboratory at Harvard University.

"The model that's being developed at the Ballmer Institute... is remarkable," McLaughlin explained. "It's innovative. It's exciting. It's exactly what the field needs and it's the only place in the country that's trying to do this. What better initiative to be involved with than the Ballmer Institute at the University of Oregon at this time if you're a person who cares about child mental health and wants to make a real difference in the community."

McLaughlin is focused on three major initiatives for the Portland-based Ballmer Institute: increasing the availability of well-trained mental health professionals, eliminating the gap in accessibility to those professionals and shifting the system from treating the most severe problems to a system that identifies problems early in one's life.

The Ballmer Institute is already providing graduate courses and will begin its new BA/BS degree program in Child Behavioral Health in the fall.

"The Ballmer Institute model is developing ... a degree program where you will get the skills that you need to be ready to enter the workforce and deliver services in your community when you graduate," McLaughlin said. "So I think this not only meets the demand in terms of the need for these services in these communities, but it meets a real demand for undergraduates who are interested in learning these skills and giving back to their communities and want to be ready to do so when they finish college."

McLaughlin is still working at Harvard but will begin her new role as executive director in August.

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