Derald Walker, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is being recognized by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare with the 2011 Award of Excellence for Visionary Leadership. His visionary leadership not only saved Cascadia from bankruptcy, but has since expanded services and resources available in the community.

Derald’s Beginnings
Derald Walker was appointed CEO by the Board of Directors in April 2008. Six days later, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare was on the brink of insolvency. The bank called in loans and froze all assets, putting the entire organization at risk of being shut down and the individuals they serve from being abandoned. Through the initial days of uncertainty, Derald kept his calm, and stepped forward to ease the concern of staff, clients, and the community. His experience in the behavioral healthcare industry allowed him to negotiate a loan with the State of Oregon and Multnomah County, to cover $1.5 million in payroll and services, and enabling Cascadia to keep their doors open. Derald then sat down with the board, staff, and representation from both those served and the community, to create a vision for the future of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, and to successfully make the necessary changes, both cultural and logistical, to fix the struggling organization.

Making The Vision A Reality
Cascadia then set to work on developing a culture of clinical quality, compliance, and improved productivity. A solid management team took over the responsibilities of making Cascadia a data-run organization. New partnerships were developed to include community feedback in the process. Today, Cascadia employs more than 800 staff and is a thriving, healthy nonprofit organization. Housing is provided for more than 700 individuals and in total, 12,000 people walk through Cascadia’s doors each year. In short, Derald Walker was able to lead Oregon’s largest safety-net provider of mental health, substance use treatment and housing services through circumstances that many believed were impossible to survive.

“Derald Walker has fundamentally transformed Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare,” said Linda Rosenberg, MSW, President and CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. “Through his leadership, Cascadia has surfaced from near bankruptcy, restructured, and is now counted amongst the most innovative and quality service providers in Oregon. He has created a vision for a safer, healthier community, establishing Safer Steps Portland with the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law to identify barriers to treatment and intervene before individuals interact with law enforcement.”

As a major nonprofit Oregon service provider, Cascadia delivers mental health and addictions treatment services to some of the state’s most vulnerable, yet resilient people. Housing is provided in residential areas to more than 600 individuals in multiple locations throughout the state. Workforce includes approximately 800 staff and a mobile outreach center. With their clients in mind, they create hope and opportunity for the people with mental illness and addictions in Oregon.

“Derald is truly a visionary leader” said Rick Cagen, MBA, Board Chair. “Even through financial hardship, Derald has remained focussed on Cascadia providing the best possible care to our community, and safe homes for those in need.”

About The National Council Awards
Each year the National Council honors individuals and organizations that are the best and brightest in mental health and addictions treatment and services. These are the programs and the people who are ahead of the trends, pioneering new service delivery models, engaging in innovative use of technology, and demonstrating positive outcomes for individuals and families. The Visionary Leadership Award is presented to individuals like Derald Walker, who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the behavioral healthcare field, and who exemplify the values and ideals embraced by the National Council.

The Awards of Excellence will be formally presented to Derald Walker and his fellow nominees on May 3, 2011 in San Diego, Calif., during the 41st Annual Conference of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. For more information on the 2011 National Council Award winners, and to view winners from previous years, please go to

The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,800 behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitative services offered in community settings help people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives.

About Cascadia
Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare’s mission is to serve those with significant mental illness or addictions, whether resolving a crisis, seeking housing, or wishing for stability in Recovery. Working in partnership with those we serve, their families, payers and community partners, Cascadia provides programs, services and resources for the people of Oregon to reach the life goals.