Valeria Harper, CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board (ADAMHS), died unexpectedly on January 9. Harper was appointed to CEO in August 2017, after the retirement of former CEO William Denihan. Denihan had enthusiastically supported Ms. Harper, and the loss is a great one for the Court.
Harper was born in Cleveland in 1958 to the late Ralph and Vera Harper and was the youngest of six siblings. She attended the Cleveland City Schools and graduated from Collinwood High School in 1976.
Harper attended Ohio University and earned a bachelor's degree in social work with a minor in psychology from Cleveland State University. She received a master's degree in counseling and human services from John Carroll University.
Harper began her career at Northeast Community Mental Health Center as a social worker. After expressing an interest in housing for individuals living with mental illness, she was promoted to the manager of residential services for group homes throughout the county.
Harper was credited as having started the first client employment service at Northeast Community Mental Health Center. Also, she was recognized as a member of the pioneer team responsible for structuring the case-management system in Cuyahoga County during her work as a supervisor at the Murtis H. Taylor Multi-Purpose Center.
Harper was a licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant and, in 2012, received the Helen K. Jones Woman of Strength Award from Recovery Resources.
In 1988, Harper joined the staff of what was then known as the Cuyahoga County Community Mental Health Board, which eventually became the ADAMHS Board. She served in numerous positions before being tapped to run the agency.
As head of the ADAMHS Board, Harper was responsible for advocacy, planning and management of a recovery-oriented system of care that delivers quality services through a network of contract agencies.
Harper was a devoted member of Good Shepherd Baptist Church and is survived by a daughter and several grandchildren.