Nebraska Behavioral Health Policy Forum 2020

2020 Nebraska Behavioral Health Policy Forum

Keynote & Special Guest Speakers | Panel Participants | View the recording for the 2020 video

The 2020 Nebraska Behavioral Health Policy Forum was held virtually on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 and was attended by more than 100 people from 25 communities across Nebraska.

The Policy Forum contained presentations by Alan Morgen, CEO of the National Rural Health Association; Nebraska Senator John Arch, and a panel discussion with rural and behavioral health professionals from across Nebraska.

The Policy Forum was held virtually because of COVID-19 and gave policymakers across the state an opportunity to hear about the national, state, and local impact of the 2020 elections and the COVID-19 pandemic on behavioral health policy.

The common themes found throughout the Policy Forum included

The panel included Nicole Carritt, Director of UNMC Rural Health Initiatives, Dr. Tina Chasek, Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Director of BHECN-Kearney, Dr. Cate Jones-Hazledine, Supervisor/Owner at Western Nebraska Behavioral Health Clinics and co-director of BHECN-Panhandle, and Kathy Seacrest, Regional Administrator for Region II Human Services. 

If you missed the virtual event, you can view a recording of the event above.

Keynote Speaker


Alan Morgan, MPA

Recognized as among the top 100 most influential people in healthcare by Modern Healthcare Magazine, Alan Morgan serves as Chief Executive Officer for the National Rural Health Association. He has more than 30 years of health policy experience at the state and federal level and is one of the nation’s leading experts on rural health policy.

Mr. Morgan served as a contributing author for the publication, “Policy & Politics in Nursing and Health Care,” and for the publication, “Rural Populations and Health.” In addition, his health policy articles have been published in: The American Journal of Clinical Medicine, The Journal of Rural Health, The Journal of Cardiovascular Management, The Journal of Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, Cardiac Electrophysiology Review, and in Laboratory Medicine.

Mr. Morgan served as staff for former US Congressman Dick Nichols and former Kansas Governor Mike Hayden. Additionally, his experience includes tenures as a health care lobbyist for the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, the Heart Rhythm Society, and VHA Inc.

He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master's degree in public administration from George Mason University.


Special Guest Speaker


Senator John Arch, MBA

Senator John Arch was elected to serve District 14 in the Nebraska Legislature on November 6, 2018. Before his retirement in late 2018, John had served in health care administration for more than 30 years. For the last 25 years, John worked for Boys Town in its health care division, the last seven as Executive Vice President of Health Care and Director of the National Research Hospital and Clinics. He continues to serve the Boys Town National Research Hospital as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives.

As the hospitals and clinics' CEO, John was responsible for all Boys Town healthcare services, including two hospitals in Omaha, outpatient clinics, behavioral health services, and research operations. Prior to working at Boys Town, John served as Vice President for Marketing and Business Development at Omaha’s Saint Joseph Center for Mental Health.

Panel Members


Nicole Carritt, MPH
Director, UNMC Rural Health Initiatives
Office of the Vice-Chancellor for External Relations
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, Nebraska

Nicole (Nikki) Carritt is the Director of Rural Health Initiatives at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and the Assistant Director of Community Outreach and Engagement for the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

Nicole has more than fifteen years of experience leading organizations in the public health and non-profit sectors and programmatic leadership in higher education. Her primary areas of responsibility are leading the statewide UNMC Rural Health 2030 Initiative to work collaboratively and incorporate rural health strategy into rural communities' broader effort to address rural health disparities and improve rural quality of life.

Nicole works closely with the rural health workforce, health policy, government affairs, community development, program and grant development, and rural community engagement activities. Her work focuses on improving rural health, safety, and wellbeing at the local, statewide, and national levels using best practices and evidence-based strategies.

Nicole has a broad background in health-related organization and programmatic leadership, community organizing, leading evidence-based policy initiatives, developing and presenting training and technical assistance to local, state-level, and national partners, and building and sustaining programs for long-term and sustainable change.

Nicole graduated from Wayne State College in Wayne, NE, with a BS in Exercise Science and earned her Master of Public Health with an emphasis in Administration from UNMC.


Christine "Tina" Chasek, PhD, LIMHP, LADC, LPC

Dr. Chasek is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology and the Director of BHECN-Kearney.  Dr. Chasek has been practicing mental health and drug counseling for over 15 years as a licensed professional. She has experience in behavioral health care administration, working as an Assistant Director in a University counseling center and as Program Director in a large community mental health center. 

Dr. Chasek’s treatment style philosophy is based on the individual’s strengths, resiliency, and a positive therapeutic and teaching relationship. Dr. Chasek’s research and teaching interests are in addiction counseling and training preparation, counselor education, and clinical outcomes in counseling.


Catherine Jones-Hazledine, PhD, "Dr. Cate"

Dr. Cate has been collaborating with BHECN for several years on projects in the Nebraska Panhandle, such as FARM CAMP and the Rural Provider Support Network.

She formally joined BHECN ranks in 2018. Her other roles currently include Supervising Psychologist/Owner at Western Nebraska Behavioral Health (WNBH) Clinics (with integrated care sites around the Sandhills and Panhandle of Nebraska), adjunct faculty with Chadron State College, and the Munroe-Meyer Institute, and training and supervising early career clinicians in rural mental health.

Before starting WNBH in 2011, Dr. Cate served as an Assistant Professor with the Munroe-Meyer Institute at UNMC for seven years.

Dr. Cate’s training includes a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Chicago, an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Kathy Seacrest
Regional Administrator
Region II Human Services

Kathy Seacrest graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Education in 1970. Through the next several years, Kathy worked as a Mental Health Educator and taught adult education classes in Transactional Analysis. During this time, Kathy also started the Rape/Domestic Abuse Program in North Platte, worked with the Domestic Violence Coalition, and initiated the North Platte Area Women’s Council.

In 1988, Kathy was hired by Region II Human Services to be the Youth Specialist, and in 1989 when the Region combined mental health and substance abuse services, Kathy became the Program Director.

In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Kathy chaired the Justice Behavioral Health Task Force and helped present the report to the Governor and Legislature. This was the beginning of justice and behavioral health working together.

In 2008, she became the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Regional Administrator for Region 2, which includes 17 Nebraska counties. 

For more than 10 years, Kathy also authored a weekly column for the newspapers in her area on mental health and daily living. Kathy has also served on and chaired many statewide Boards and Coalitions.


Erin Schneider, MSW
BHECN Outreach Coordinator & Panel Moderator

Erin Schneider joined BHECN in June of 2020 as the new Outreach Coordinator. She coordinates with the leadership team to evaluate, develop, and promote BHECN's outreach plan to the behavioral health workforce.
Erin has 12 years of social work and behavioral health experience, a bachelor of science degree in Psychology from Drake University, and a master's degree in Social Work from the University of Kansas.

 View the recording for the 2021 Forum video