Staff Profile: Program Officer Coffee-Fletcher Focuses on Expanding Mental Health Expertise
January 1, 2010
By Ashwini Salpekar
After more than 20 years as a mental health professional, Vicky Coffee-Fletcher still strives to enhance and broaden her knowledge of mental health care in Texas and nationally.
As a program officer at the Hogg Foundation, she has ample opportunity to do just that while managing forward-thinking, creative grant initiatives that strive to improve mental health in Texas. In fact, the foundation's support of innovative policies and programs across Texas is what attracted Coffee-Fletcher to the position in the first place.
"My role at the foundation has given me an opportunity to expand my knowledge and expertise to a statewide perspective," Coffee-Fletcher said. "It has been a wonderful learning experience."
Before joining the foundation in 2007, Coffee-Fletcher was the division administrator for Family Focus at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. There she was responsible for developing initiatives and policies to improve support of parents, children and youth served through the Child Protective Services system by increasing their involvement. Before that, she provided children's mental health services in Austin, San Marcos and Pennsylvania.
Coffee-Fletcher, a native of Blanco, earned a bachelor of science in family and child development and a master of education in counseling and guidance from Texas State University. "While in undergraduate school, I became interested in working with children with special needs and decided to specialize in child development and mental health," Coffee-Fletcher said.
As a member of the Hogg Foundation's program staff and grant review committee, she lends her expertise to discussions and decisions on mental health strategy, funding, policies and initiatives. Currently, she works with grantees providing children's mental health services in Houston and Harris County. She also manages a scholarship program for graduate social work students, along with other projects.
"At the foundation, we're looking more globally at policies and grant initiatives that can lead to important changes in the way mental health services are delivered and the benefits they bring to people across the state," she said.
Long-term, Coffee-Fletcher wants to continue expanding her skills as a program officer and her understanding of mental health of people of all ages and backgrounds, including areas she has not previously worked in, such as veterans and senior citizens. She also wants to see greater awareness of the need for services that meet the needs of all Texans, regardless of culture, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status or region.
"All people should have equal access to mental health services that are culturally relevant and supportive, determined by an individual or family's needs, and available in rural Texas as well as border and urban areas," said Coffee-Fletcher.