Local News

Advocate named as N.C. mental health director

Posted May 18, 2010 1:22 p.m. EDT
Updated May 18, 2010 4:32 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina's mental health services director is retiring and is being replaced by an advocate and legislative lobbyist for the mentally ill.

Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler announced Tuesday that John Tote, longtime executive director of the Mental Health Association in North Carolina, will become the next director of mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services.

Tote will replace Leza Wainwright, who will retire Sept. 1 after 32 years in state government.

“John has been a long-time advocate of mental health issues and widely known and respected in the mental health community,' Cansler said in a statement. "DHHS welcomes his wealth of experience in those crucial areas as this agency moves forward in community care."

“I am thrilled, honored and humbled to have been named by Gov. (Bev) Perdue and Secretary Cansler,” Tote said in a statement. “I intend to bring an advocate’s spirit to the job and look forward to working even more closely with the citizens of North Carolina and their elected officials to this new role.”

Wainwright became deputy director in 2003, co-director in 2008 and later became sole director, overseeing treatment for more than 300,000 people. She makes $129,000 annually.

"Leza’s years of leadership are incomparable and her dedication to serving the citizens of the state demonstrates her level of care,” Cansler said.