BATON ROUGE - LDH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein announced today that Dr. Laura Brackin has been named Assistant Secretary for the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities and Dr. Anthony Speier will serve as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Behavioral Health.

Brackin, who is leaving the private sector to join state government, is replacing Julia Kenny, who informed Secretary Greenstein earlier this week that she is leaving the department to pursue other interests. Speier has been serving as interim Assistant Secretary of OBH and has now officially been named to the position permanently.

"Both Dr. Brackin and Dr. Speier bring a passion for service and strong leadership skills to our executive team," Secretary Greenstein said. "We will be relying on them to help us carry out the many transformative initiatives we have been building in recent years. At the same time, their leadership for innovation and efficiency will help us build a stronger agency with the focus on putting people first."

Speier currently serves as Interim Assistant Secretary of OBH. Prior to that position, he has served the Department for 30 years in various roles, including Director of the Division of Community Service Systems, Statewide Director of Disaster Mental Health Services, Director Division of Program Development and Implementation before taking over as Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of Health in 2008.

He has been recognized nationally for his work with the Louisiana Spirit program started initially after hurricanes Katrina and Rita to help the people of South Louisiana deal with the emotional toll of the devastation. He has a PhD in Psychology from Louisiana State University.

As Assistant Secretary of OBH, he is responsible for directing the development of short and long term goals and objectives as well as program operation that will result in the delivery of quality mental health and addiction services. This includes the implementation of the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership and the operation of community services and public psychiatric facilities in the state.

"Tony has been instrumental in shaping the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership and Coordinated System of Care which will transform how behavioral health services are paid for and delivered in our state with a much greater focus on community-based care and coordination of care for better outcomes," Deputy Secretary Kathy Kliebert said. Kliebert had previously held the position of OBH Assistant Secretary until being named LDH's Deputy Secretary early last year. "His caring approach to leadership has helped us steadily take the bold steps needed to change the lives of people with behavioral health care needs."

Brackin currently serves as executive director of the Arc of Louisiana. Prior to joining Arc in 2006, she served as program director and assistant professor for the Community Development Program in the University Center for Excellence at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. Prior to that, she was executive director of the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs under former Gov. Mike Foster.

In her position at the Arc, Brackin was recognized multiple times for her leadership including winning the 2010 President's Award for the Louisiana Conference of Executives of The Arc, the 2009 Rising Star Award from the National Conference of Executive of the Arc and the 2009 Bernard R. Wagner Leadership Award from the Louisiana Chapter of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities among others. She received a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and her Master's in Agency Counseling, both from the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Counseling at LSU in Baton Rouge.

"Laura is an amazing addition to our team," said Deputy Secretary Kliebert, who is responsible for direct oversight of each of the agency's program offices. "She is well known and respected among both our advocate and provider communities and will help us continue to build on the work of recent years to provide the least-restrictive, most independent living opportunities for Louisianians with developmental disabilities."

As Assistant Secretary of OCDD, she will be responsible for developing and implementing policy and procedure for Louisiana's developmental disabilities services system. She will provide leadership and direction to statewide public and private agencies that support people with developmental disabilities in accordance with the mission and vision of the Office.

"I want to personally thank Julia for the dedication she has shown. With an advocate's heart, she has helped us enhance independent living opportunities for people with developmental disabilities so more people are able to live fuller, independent lives in their communities and with their families," Secretary Greenstein said. "We wish her the best in her future endeavors."

Kenny will step down Feb. 17, at which time Brackin will take over the position. Speier's appointment is effective immediately.