For twenty-five years Timothy J. Coakley was an outstanding leader, advocate, program innovator, and visionary in the behavioral health field. In the early days of his career in Massachusetts, he pioneered alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization for adolescents, initiated award-winning services for homeless families, and cultivated a broad range of psycho-social services for the seriously mentally ill. Later on, as the Principal for Coakley Consulting, he was at the forefront of design and implementation for many of this country's most successful and innovative public managed care programs, including Massachusetts, Chicago, Iowa, Nebraska, Arizona, and Washington, DC. His work was characterized by the highest degree of integrity and a passion for creative approaches for improving the lives of mentally disabled persons, especially in the public sector. He was also known for his persistent, engaging and sometimes irreverent style of working with colleagues. He passed away suddenly on February 18th, 2003.

To acknowledge and create a lasting memorial for Tim's many contributions to the field, Tim’s close friends, colleagues and family have established the Timothy J. Coakley Leadership Fund. The Fund is housed at the American College of Mental Health Administration (ACMHA). The Timothy J. Coakley Behavioral Health Leadership Award will be given annually for projects that demonstrate consumer and provider leadership on key issues that affect the field of behavioral health.

To learn more about the recent award winners, please visit ACMHA's website.



The Trustees of the Coakley Fund and the Board of Directors at the ACMHA, The College of Behavioral Health Leadership are pleased to announce that the 2010 Timothy J. Coakley Award has been given to the National Coalition for Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations in memory of the extraordinary work and legacy of Judi Chamberlin.  Judi died on January 16 in her home.  Dick Dougherty presented the award to Lauren Spiro at the 2010 ACMHA Summit in Santa Fe.

Judi’s life as an advocate began when she was 22 years old and had suffered a miscarriage. After several voluntary hospitalizations, she was involuntarily committed.  Five months in a state hospital in New York City propelled her into a leading role in the movement to guarantee basic human rights to psychiatric patients.  “There are real indignities and real problems when all facets of life are controlled — when to get up, to eat, to shower — and chemicals are put inside our bodies against our will,” Ms. Chamberlin told The New York Times in 1981.   There was a lack of activity, of fresh air. There were seclusion rooms and wards for noncompliant patients. The drugs made her lethargic and affected her memory. She could not sign herself out.  She had become, she said, “a prisoner of the system.”

After her release, Ms. Chamberlin co-founded the Mental Patient’s Liberation Front.   She gave speeches and interviews throughout the country. In 1978, her book “On Our Own” was published.  It became a “manifesto” for the consumer movement.

In 2000, she was a primary author of a federal report by the National Council on Disability called “From Privileges to Rights.” The report said that within the traditional system patients had to earn privileges, among them to see visitors, leave the grounds and have their own clothes. Those should be basic rights, not privileges.

In 1992, President George H. W. Bush presented Ms. Chamberlin with the Distinguished Service Award.  She leaves an extraordinary legacy.  Judi was a seminal figure in the rise of the national consumer movement and it was her wish that gifts in her memory be given to the National Coalition.

In words from Judi’s writings:
“Disabilities – all disabilities - may present us with difficulties, but they don't mean we shouldn't dream… We, all of us, need real goals to aspire to, goals that we determine, aims that are individual and personal… Let us celebrate the unbowed head, the heart that still dreams, the voice that refuses to be silent.”



picThe Trustees of the Coakley Fund and the Board of Directors at the American College of Mental Health Administration (ACMHA) are pleased to announce that Joseph A. Rogers, Philadelphia, has been awarded the 2009 Timothy Coakley Behavioral Health Leadership Award from ACMHA. Few people have influenced the mental health field more than Mr. Rogers. Over the last several decades, he has made extraordinary contributions to the national consumer movement, for system reform in Pennsylvania, and currently in developing a self-determination initiative in Delaware County, PA.

Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at age 19 and told that he was incapable of holding a job, Mr. Rogers spent the next few years in and out of state and local psychiatric hospitals. Upon his release, he descended into a life of homelessness and desolation until he eventually found a correct diagnosis and treatment for bipolar disorder, and a place to stay at a YMCA. After fate led him to a job as an outreach worker at a mental health center, he moved in 1984 to Philadelphia, where he began work at the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP). It was there that he found his life's work.

Rogers was appointed executive director of MHASP in July 1997. His work has included setting up more than two dozen consumer-run programs at MHASP, organizing the first national consumer conference, and successfully advocating for the closure of state hospitals and the creation of community support services. From the outset, Mr. Rogers believed that individuals with mental illnesses are in the best position to direct their care and govern and staff their own services. Under MHASP's auspices, Mr. Rogers founded the Self-Help and Advocacy Resource Exchange (Project SHARE), which became the umbrella organization for programs that provide such essential services as peer support, drop-in centers, housing, homeless outreach, mentoring, and job training. He also has been instrumental in an ongoing effort to abolish the use of restraints in the treatment of patients in mental health facilities and in working to reform the methods used by police in apprehending at-risk individuals with mental illness. Mr. Rogers is currently Chief Advocacy Officer of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Rogers has testified before the United States Congress and served on the Congressional Task Force on the Rights and Empowerment of Americans with Disabilities. He also served on the Executive Committee of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. He is a past president of the board of directors and a former chairman of the advisory board of Pennsylvania Protection & Advocacy, Inc. (now the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania). He was an invited speaker in 1987 at the World Congress for Mental Health in Cairo, Egypt, and at the 1989 World Congress in New Zealand. In 1993, 1994, and 1995, he provided technical assistance to the growing consumer movement in Poland, where he met with consumers, service providers, and government officials. In 2005 he was awarded the 11th Heinz Award for the Human Condition - given to individuals who have developed and implemented significant new programs to improve the human condition - administered by the Heinz Family Philanthropies.

Coakley Fund Trustee Dr. Richard Dougherty, DMA Health Strategies, presented the award to Mr. Rogers during the 2009 ACMHA Summit on Behavioral Health in Santa Fe, NM.


On March 17, 2006, the Trustees of the Coakley Fund announced the recipient of 2006 Coakley Award: Consumer Action Network (CAN) of Washington, D.C. With the seed money of the Coakley Award and support of ACMHA members, CAN developed a paper on the role of "entrepreneurship" as a recovery tool. Mary Blake accepted the award for CAN in 2006. The award was renewed in 2007 and 2008. Several documents outline the work of CAN on the project supported by the Coakley Award. Questions about the project and the documents below may be directed to Effie Smith, Director, Consumer Action Network at 202-842-0001. Consumer Action Network (CAN) was incorporated in the District of Columbia as a non-profit peer-advocacy organization in January 2003. On September 3, 2003, CAN was awarded a competitive contract with the DC Department of Mental Health to develop a grievance system and peer-advocacy program for recipients (consumers) of mental health services. CAN's founding directors, Mary Hathaway, Effie Smith and Mary Blake, envisioned a new peer-directed, project-focused, and empowerment-based strategy for addressing DC consumers' needs. To preserve its independence and longevity, CAN plans to seek funding from diverse-source funding opportunities and enhance the consumer s role in delivering services, improving quality of life, and supporting recovery. In 2006 and 2007, CAN was awarded the Timothy Coakley Leadership Award from the American College of Mental Health Administration (ACMHA). The awards were in support of CAN's early planning work on an entrepreneurship initiative that was launched in March 2006. On March 14, 2008, CAN received the Timothy Coakley Leadership Award for the third year, providing additional seed funding to continue their work on entrepreneurship activities for consumers.


ACMHA and the Timothy J. Coakley Leadership Fund announced the winners of the first annual Timothy J. Coakley Behavioral Health Leadership Award at the annual Santa Fe Summit of the American College of Mental Health Administration that was held on March 10-13, 2004 at the Eldorado Hotel. The winning paper was circulated by the American College and published in Behavioral Healthcare Tomorrow and the author received travel support to the Summit, complimentary registration and a $500 prize. The winning paper and honorable mentioned are listed and linked below.

Winner - Exemplary Rural Mental Health Services Delivery, Edward L. Knight, Ph.D., CPRP , Vice President of Recovery, Rehabilitation & Mutual Support, Value Options, Adjunct Professor, Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University

Honorable Mention - Framingham, Massachusetts - Jail Diversion Program. Christopher Gordon, M.D., Medical Director & V.P. Behavioral Health, Lisa Chabot, Development Office, Advocates, Inc. Framingham, MA

Honorable Mention - How to Accomplish Practice Change in Behavioral Healthcare in Less than One Year. Natalie S. Berger, Ph.D., Director, Adult Network, Pikes Peak Mental Health