Dr. Lisa H. Wong has been appointed Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health by the Board of Supervisors in a unanimous vote.
Wong has been serving as the interim director since July 1. The Board of Supervisors voted to remove the interim tag at its meeting on Wednesday.
“As a student in Skid Row, I never envisioned that I would one day become the director of the Department of Mental Health,” Wong said in a statement. “My focus was always on providing care to those who needed it most, which has been a source of great joy, fulfillment and growth in my life. I am honored and humbled to now have the opportunity to lead this amazing organization of dedicated, passionate, mission-driven people in caring for the residents of Los Angeles County.”
Wong has more than 33 years of experience in the Department of Mental Health and spent more than two decades working in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles providing care to those experiencing severe mental illness and homelessness.
“In the words of Dr. Cornel West, ‘You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people, and you can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.’ I am sincerely grateful for this opportunity to love and serve,” Wong said.
Wong was the Senior Deputy Director and interim Chief of the Full-Service Partnership program, an outpatient service aimed at helping clients at risk for homelessness, incarceration and hospitalization prior to her role as director. She served as program leader for the Mental Health Clinical Program at the Downtown Mental Health Center’s general outpatient services and worked at CalWORKs/GROW, Prevention & Early Intervention programs, and as Service Area Chief over Service Areas 2 and 3 and Acting Chief for Outpatient Services.
As interim director, she is credited with hiring or promoting over 500 employees during an unprecedented nationwide shortage of mental health care workers; launching the Alternative Crisis Response efforts and the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline; seamlessly pivoting to the first cohort of counties to implement CARE Court; progress in developing the innovative Hollywood 2.0 project; and ensuring the completion of the master plan for new facilities on the county Restorative Care Villages including 240 Crisis Residential Treatment Program beds.
Wong earned her doctorate degree from the Pacifica Graduate Institute and her master’s degree in clinical psychology from California State University, Los Angeles.