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Mayor Bowser Names Dr. Tanya Royster Director of Department of Behavioral Health

Monday, July 20, 2015

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the appointment of Dr. Tanya Royster as the Acting Director of the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH). Dr. Royster joins the Bowser Administration from Chicago where she served as Director of Behavioral Health for the Franciscan St. James Health System. 

“Dr. Royster comes to our city with a long-standing commitment to healthy neighborhoods and communities. She is a leader who gets things done, exercises fiscal responsibility and understands the need for treating our vulnerable residents with dignity and care,” said Mayor Bowser. “With Dr. Royster at the helm, DBH will continue to provide quality services that address the needs of all residents in all eight wards.  In addition, Dr. Royster will lead the District in our fight against substance abuse, including the use of synthetic drugs and other harmful substances.”

Dr. Royster has previously served in the Illinois state government, earned tenure at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and taught in the departments of medicine, nursing, social work and Honors college of UIC. She is well published and her accomplishments include selection as a 2010-2011 Child and Family Fellow at the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“Having the opportunity to take Washington, DC’s Department of Behavioral Health to the next level of excellence is a dream come true and I look forward to working with Mayor Bowser’s team as we work to ensure our communities are healthy and thriving,” said Dr. Royster.

Dr. Royster graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and completed both her General Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry residencies at New York University/Bellevue Hospital Medical Center in New York City.

Royster will begin on Monday, August 3.

Mayor Bowser also kicked off an underage drinking prevention campaign, which will empower parents to take action to prevent underage drinking. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, nearly a quarter (22%) of DC youth used alcohol before they turned 13. The campaign, “There’s a Reason”, will include the strategic placement of informational materials across the city and on social media, as well as “Community Conversations” in all 8 wards to encourage dialogue and planned prevention. 

Mayor Bowser also shared that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded DBH a $9 million grant over three years starting September 30, 2015, to provide non-Medicaid reimbursable services to chronically homeless individuals with mental health and/or substance use disorders. This grant is aligned with the Interagency Council on Homelessness’ work and will support the Administration’s goal of ensuring that homelessness in the District is rare, brief and non-recurring.