(Fort Worth, TX) – The board of directors of the Mental Health Connection (MCH) of Tarrant County has selected Christina Judge as executive director of the innovative mental and behavioral health collaboration, formed in the aftermath of the 1999 Wedgwood Baptist Church shootings that left seven dead and eight injured. Judge succeeds Virginia Hoft, who has led the organization since 2019. The Mental Health Connection provides networking and a collaborative environment to multiple mental health direct service and support organizations across Tarrant County to help foster seamless cooperation among agencies.
Judge is a 30-year veteran of the nonprofit sector and most recently was manager of business development at North Texas based M. Gale & Associates, a leading fundraising consulting firm. Prior to that, she was executive director of The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation, a North Texas nonprofit agency dedicated to suicide prevention through training and education, as well as providing funding for mental health and suicide prevention research. In addition to mental health experience, Judge has worked in various roles with the United States Army, higher education, child welfare, and healthcare.
“Christina brings with her a wealth of experience that will ensure that the mission of strengthening the mental health system in Tarrant County continues to be the focus of MHC,” said Ottis Goodwin, chair of the MHC board and director of School-Based Health Partnerships for the Fort Worth Independent School District. “MHC has always been a local effort, and we are excited that the new Executive Director is someone with ties the community and MHC, and who has a strong history of positively impacting our community,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin also mentioned the board is incredibly grateful for the work of her predecessors and looks forward to continuing the work with Judge to make sure every resident has access to high quality mental health and substance use treatment.
“I feel very fortunate to have someone of Christina’s caliber and experience to be taking over leadership of Mental Health Connection,” Hoft said. “Over the past year, the board, membership, and I have worked diligently to develop a bold five-year strategic and business plan. “MHC is ready for the energy and leadership Christina brings to implement the new initiatives. Her proven track record of execution and her commitment to collaboration is exactly what the agency needs at this time,” she said.
Judge is a native of the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area, and moved to Texas in 1992.
She received a Master of Arts degree from Texas Woman’s University in Sociology with concentrations in demographics and field research, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, in government and politics. Judge is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).
Additional Information about the Mental Health Connection:
After the September 15, 1999, shooting at Wedgwood Baptist Church by Larry Gene Ashbrook, who suffered from an untreated mental illness, then-Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr asked local mental health providers to develop a plan to improve access to quality mental health services for all Tarrant County residents.
The Mental Health Connection is a remarkable story about collaboration, Barr said. “It is also a unique success story in that it illustrates how we collaborate most effectively in Fort Worth and Tarrant County,” Barr said. He noted that the various nonprofit entities providing mental health services to Tarrant County residents have now been meeting every month for almost 25 years to cooperate, coordinate and plan the delivery of mental health services, creating a “no wrong door” approach to guide residents seeking services to the best place for them to get help.
Barr said he appreciates recognition for his role in creating the Mental Health Connection. “But the fact of the matter is that most of the credit should go to the professionals who recognized the crisis, came together and established the vehicle that became the Mental Health Connection,” Barr said. “Peggy Troy, who was with Cook Childrens, Ted Blevins with Lena Pope, and Shirley Little Martin, the Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office, were the driving forces in making things happen. They – and others – are the real champions of this success story,” he said. “This collaboration is unique because we live in a state that is at the bottom of the list in funding of mental health services. Yet, over the years, I’ve come to understand that all of us regularly encounter family, friends, and co-workers facing mental health challenges,” Barr said.
Do you want to know more?
Mental Health Connection
3136 W. 4th St.
Fort Worth, Texas 76107
Tarrant Cares, an online information service for individuals, families, caregivers, and agencies.