After serving Kitsap Mental Health Services for over four years as chief operating officer, Monica Bernhard will move over to the CEO position left open by Joe Roszak’s retirement, the organization announced Monday.
“I’m really excited about that,” Bernhard said Monday, adding that she’ll continue the work the agency has already been contributing to the community.
“The CEO prior to me, Joe Roszak, has left quite a legacy to follow. … I don’t see us doing something completely new. What I see us doing is really building on a lot of the great initiatives that have already started here,” Bernhard said.
Kitsap Mental Health Services’ board selected Bernhard after a nationwide search, unanimously agreeing that Bernhard’s nonprofit leadership experience and business acumen made her the “perfect person” to guide the agency, KMHS board President Patty Lent said in a statement.
“Monica has a heart for our clients and a deep appreciation for the staff members and partners who provide hope and healing to our community,” Lent said.
The position, assisted by Washington-based Valtas, a firm that specializes in recruiting for nonprofit leadership, attracted over 100 applications, according to KMHS.
Bernhard joined Kitsap Mental Health Services in 2018 as the agency’s development director and also served as KMHS’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer before taking Roszak’s position. Roszak retired on July 5 after leading the agency for 14 years.
During Bernhard’s time at KMHS, she has led the community partnership that created Pendleton Place, Kitsap county’s first permanent supportive housing facility built for chronically homeless people who are struggling with serious mental health issues or substance use disorders. After a delay of the move-in dates in the spring due to fire safety concerns inspected by the city of Bremertonthe 72-unit complex apartment is now home to 68 people.
Bernhard said the agency expected Pendleton Place to be fully occupied by the end of the month and that residents are receiving primary care and behavioral health services provided in the apartment.
“We’re hearing a lot of positive feedback from the residents themselves that this has been a life-changing experience, … they can’t believe that they have the opportunity to live there. So, I would say we’re definitely headed in the right direction,” Bernhard said about the operation of the apartment.
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Bernhard has also overseen some projects, including contracting with managed care organizations and implementing a call center and centralized scheduling to better serve the agency’s clients, according to KMHS.
Her other nonprofit leadership experience includes serving as the director of housing and community services for Kitsap Community Resources and the executive director of Bremerton Foodline. Before that, Bernhard spent 15 years in the private sector, according to KMHS.
Originally from Bremerton, Bernhard graduated from Bremerton High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Washington and a master’s in finance from Seattle University.
“We serve the most challenging individuals in our community and we do it with an open heart and a commitment to hope and to healing,” Bernhard said. “I know we are going to do great things together.”