Terri White, commissioner for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, is a passionate advocate for individuals experiencing mental illness and addiction. Because of her leadership, ODMHSAS has become nationally known for its children’s behavioral health services; community-based treatment programs; technological innovations such as “telepsychiatry;” and the integration of behavioral health care into primary healthcare settings.
White, appointed commissioner in May 2007, also was the first woman to serve as Oklahoma’s Secretary of Health, holding that post under then-Governor Brad Henry from 2009 to 2011.
Before becoming commissioner, White held numerous positions within the department, including Deputy Commissioner for Communications and Prevention; Director of Communications and Public Policy; Management Analyst; and, executive director of two state-operated facilities.
As commissioner, White serves as CEO for one of Oklahoma’s largest state agencies. The ODMHSAS has an annual operating budget of nearly $400 million and a workforce of approximately 1,800. In addition to overseeing state-run facilities, the agency also contracts with more than 300 private and non-profit mental health and substance abuse organizations across the state, which provide services ranging from treatment to housing to prevention and early intervention.
In addition to her career endeavors, White has been recognized by numerous civic organizations for her outstanding leadership abilities and tireless efforts to improve the quality of life for Oklahomans living with mental or addictive disorders.
She received a national Henry Toll Fellowship with the Council of State Governments in 2015. In 2014, White received the “Kate Barnard Award” from the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women, created to honor outstanding women who have made a difference in Oklahoma through public service. In 2012, she was recognized by The Journal Record newspaper as one of Oklahoma’s top “Achievers Under 40.” She is a three-time honoree of The Journal Record’s “50 Women Making a Difference” program and was named to its “Circle of Excellence” in 2011.
She was inducted into OU’s Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work Hall of Fame in 2011, and is a volunteer faculty member with the University’s School of Medicine.
A native of Edmond, White received both her Master of Social Work and her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from OU.