Chris Stoner-Mertz is New California Alliance Executive Director

The Board of Directors of the California Alliance recently announced that it has selected Chris Stoner-Mertz as the organization’s Executive Director, succeeding Carroll Schroeder who retires in January after 18 years leading the 140-member association of accredited private, nonprofit organizations providing services, treatment and support to vulnerable children youth and families throughout the state.

Ms. Stoner-Mertz is currently President and CEO of Lincoln Child Center in Oakland, a California Alliance member agency delivering behavioral health and family strengthening services in the San Francisco Bay area. Since 2005, she has lead the organization through a transformational period, moving from a residentially-based services focus to designing an array of culturally responsive community and school-based services for children and youth ages 0-21. Her deep commitment to equity is reflected in the transformation of services at Lincoln.

The selection of Ms. Stoner-Mertz follows an exhaustive national search by the firm of Morris & Berger that began in July and August. Alliance President Joyce Capelle of Crittenton Services for Children and Families in Fullerton who led the Search Committee’s efforts said, “Chris impressed the entire Search Committee with her commitment to the Alliance, its member agencies, and to our collective advocacy for children, youth and families. We look forward to supporting her leadership,” said Ms. Capelle.

A licensed clinical social worker in California, Ms. Stoner-Mertz received her MSW from the University of Michigan and began her career in California in 1985, as co-founder of Seneca Center, now the Seneca Family of Agencies, where she was instrumental in the development of programs and oversight of operations for 15 years.

In, 1999, she founded inFocus Consulting and Development, LLC providing consultation to over 50 private behavioral healthcare providers as well as the California State Department of Mental Health, various county departments of mental health and social services, and to school districts. As a sought after expert on MediCal EPSDT program design and implementation, Ms. Stoner-Mertz developed the Medi-Cal Specialty Mental Health Services Manual. 

“I wanted the opportunity to work at a policy level, and this seemed to be a perfect balance of staying connected to our members’ work while engaging in public policy advocacy,” Ms. Stoner-Mertz said. “I look forward to working with members and partner organizations to envision and build stronger and more effective systems of care for California’s youth and families.” 

She has served on the boards of directors of the California Alliance, the California Council of Behavioral Health Agencies, the National Council of Behavioral Health Organizations, and has been the recipient of numerous service and leadership awards during her career, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service. 

The California Alliance of Child and Family Services, the collective voice for organizations that serve children, youth and families, was formed in 2000 by the merger of the California Association of Children’s Homes and the California Association of Services for Children. For its 140 member agencies, the Alliance provides public policy advocacy, executive support, policy expertise and collegial support for members’ chief executives and senior staff. Mr. Schroeder was the Alliance’s first President and has served as its Executive Director since 2001.