Jody Wright, current Healthy Options Australia Chief Executive Officer, will succeed long serving Executive Director and Superintendent Dr Dennis Young AM in April to lead and grow the organisation and its related entities in providing alcohol and other drug, mental health, family, child and youth support as well as information, research and education to the general community.
Mr Harold Peacock, Chair of the Healthy Options Australia group incorporating the Australian College of Community Services, Drug ARM Australasia and Mental Health Association Qld, is pleased to announce the organisation has appointed its first female Executive Director in the organisation’s 169 year history.
Healthy Options Australia Chair Harold Peacock said Ms Wright was the organic choice for the role due to her extensive experience in community based health services and deep passion and understanding of the sector and the organisation itself.
“Jody has a demonstrated ability to build on the existing strengths of the organisation and her 20 years of not for profit experience helps to provide the agility required to ensure the ongoing success and growth of Healthy Options in a rapidly changing environment.” Mr Peacock said.
The Board of Healthy Options Australia has worked hard over the past 12 months to develop a succession plan, which will see Ms Jody Wright succeed Dr Dennis Young AM who has served as Executive Director for 30 years. Ms Wright will be the first female Executive Director in the organisation’s 169 year history.
Ms Wright started on the front line, and quickly saw the complex and changing needs of people with substance use and mental health issues. Following the death of client in her first few weeks of service, she saw the desperate need for system improvement.
“One of my first clients was doing really well in the day program I worked at. We had finally been able to find him a bed for medical detox, and had lined up rehab. He had just one night in a men’s hostel between the day program and medical detox – that was the night he overdosed and died,” Ms Wright said.
“This same storyline kept playing out. If there were opportunities to try and influence and assist Government and the community to come up with more responsive treatment options, I knew I wanted to be a part of that,” she continued.
As Chief Executive Officer, Ms Wright has overseen a significant regional expansion of out-client services now spanning over 1,900km with 40 service locations. Since 2012, Ms Wright led the organisation’s embracing of technology to reduce administrative burden and increase sector and community capacity.
“I’ve always appreciated the history of passion and innovation of the organisation, from the 1860s to today. There is a real attitude of bravery, of getting in and having a go. It’s always been a team environment, where we’re all in it together,” Ms Wright said.
Ms Wright continued, “I’m looking forward to acting as a steward for our workforce and maintaining the environment where people are able to excel in what they do. You don’t know what you can do until someone believes in you.”
Ms Wright said she was excited for the new role, and continuing to work alongside Dr Young as he moves to a newly created chief advocacy position within the company.