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Governor Northam Names New Commissioner of Dept. of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services

Governor Northam Announces Alison Land as Commissioner of Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

Land brings experience in behavioral health management, proven record of organizational leadership

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Alison Land, former Vice President of Behavioral Health Services at Sentara Healthcare, will serve as Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS). Land’s appointment is the result of a thorough three-month search for a new Commissioner of DBHDS, following the tragic death of Dr. Hughes Melton in August.

“Alison has dedicated her life to caring for patients and their families, and she brings decades of experience leading large, complex organizations,” said Governor Northam. “I am confident Alison is the right person to steer DBHDS at this critical time, and will build on the agency’s legacy of service to individuals with developmental and behavioral health needs.”

Land joined Sentara in 2015, overseeing its behavioral health initiatives, psychiatrist recruitment and retention, inpatient and outpatient behavioral health centers, and virtual assessment and telepsychiatry programs, among other responsibilities. Prior to her move to Hampton Roads, Land worked at Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Georgia, where she rose to serve as vice-president and oversaw a variety of hospital services, including the Floyd Behavioral Health Center. She also had system-level responsibility for functions including strategy, planning, quality, and coordinated care.

“My career has been devoted to improving systems of care and making sure people have access to the services they need,” said Alison Land. “I’m looking forward to working with the team at DBHDS and stakeholders to improve our current system and support individuals by promoting recovery, self-determination, and wellness in all aspects of life.”

Land has also been involved with behavioral health advocacy and stakeholder groups, serving as co-chair of the Governor’s Policy Council on Mental Health, the Hampton Roads Opioid Coalition, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and as past chair of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association’s behavioral health committee. She is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).

“Alison has been a partner to the Hampton-Newport News CSB for a number of years,” said Natalie Ward Christian, Executive Director of Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board. “We are looking forward to working together in the coming years to provide the highest level of care for some of Virginia’s most vulnerable populations.”

“We are excited to work with Alison as she takes on this new role as the leader of DBHDS,” said Sarah Wilson, Acting Executive Director of NAMI Virginia. “Through collaboration and a shared focus on serving Virginia’s behavioral health needs, we know we will be able to make great progress together and create a Commonwealth where all people affected by mental illness get the help, hope, and support that they need.”

“Alison has been a valued and well-respected member of Virginia’s behavioral health community for years,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD. “She brings with her not only the respect of her colleagues and community partners, but a true understanding of the many challenges we face in Virginia when it comes to getting individuals the right care in the right setting. I am looking forward to working with her as she brings her commitment to leadership and partnership to DBHDS.” 

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