System of Care Movement Loses a Champion in Dr. Jerome Hanley

24 Comments | Posted

The System of Care Movement has lost one of its early pioneers with the passing of Dr. Jerome Hanley.

Jerome H. Hanley, Ph.D, was a clinical child psychologist and most recently Director of the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs for the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. Previous to this position he served for 17 years as the director of the Division of Children, Adolescents and Their Families within the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.  He was also a professor with the University of South Carolina Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science, and a Fellow of the Institute for Families in Society. He was the first African-American licensed clinical psychologist in the state of South Carolina and the first African-American psychologist to serve on the state licensing board.

I first met Jerome when he was heading up the CASSP grant in South Carolina in the 1990's. He was passionate about improving children's mental health services in the South Carolina and throughout the United States. He was equally passionate about the importance of infusing cultural competence into every aspect of his work and our work to make this world a little better for youth with emotional and behavioral challenges and their families. Jerome was a force to be reckoned with - An orator, scholar, and pretty darned good at telling a joke or two. He will be missed.

If you knew Jerome and would like to share a comment or remembrance please do so. We will forward your thoughts on to those who love him most in South Carolina.

Scott Bryant-Comstock

Obituary posted in The State, February 21, 2012


  1. Michele Vazquez's avatar
    Michele Vazquez
    | Permalink
    Hello family of Dr. Hanley. I am currently a Fulbright Scholar in Ukraine and was asked to teach a course on intercultural communication to their National Economic University. In refreshing myself on this topic, I came across an article Dr. Hanley wrote (Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg).

    I thought I would send him a note...thanking him for the level of insight that I think centered me today in my presentation.

    That opportunity has passed, but I thought I would still send this note, to let you all know that his words are still having far away as Kiev Ukraine, a place where much is hiddent beneath the iceberg.

  2. Carroll Lytch's avatar
    Carroll Lytch
    | Permalink
    Dr Hanley was my mentor. I did not speak to him all the time but when we would run into one another at a conference, it was like no time passed. He made it possible for me to become a psychologist and then assisted me with getting my first job. He took a chance on me and the only thing he ever asked was that I help someone else. He believed I could be Dr. Lytch when no one else did. I will always be grateful. "no he is not heavy he is my brother."
  3. thomas e. mosley's avatar
    thomas e. mosley
    | Permalink
    I too am saddened by Jeromes home going. we tried to connect by drumming but just never clicked. I was unable to attend the home going services here in South Carolina even though I reside right here in town. Jerome was a great brother and I for one will ensure his legacy by finishing the book he wrote and sharing it with others.
  4. James Mason's avatar
    James Mason
    | Permalink
    Jerome worked to improve health and human services and to make them more culturally competent. He worked on behalf of black and other groups of color, the poor and otherwise oppressed communities. I met him through CAASP, so he was a big supporter of children, youth, and families. He was admired because he would pursue system improvement as an employee or as a community advocate—he didn’t do it for the paycheck. Instead it was a calling, a mission—and his behavior inspired many. He uttered the words and thought the thoughts that lesser champions couldn’t or wouldn’t. He was always participatory even adversarial in meetings, but was the first one to suggest a conciliatory beverage or repast. His leadership, commitment, zeal, and yes his eccentricity will be missed. Rest I peace Jerome, we love you and miss you.
  5. Raymond Crowel's avatar
    Raymond Crowel
    | Permalink
    Jerome came to Baltimore several times when we were buildinga System of Care for the City. His passiion scared some but empowered more. It gave us all a sense of mission and a belief that we could - had to - make a difference. We shared a love for music and when he'd come to town we'd hit the music store where they still sold wax (old fashioned records for the younuns).

    I am saddened by his loss becasue I had the joy of knowing and learning from him. Rest well Jerome. You have earned it.
  6. Katherine Roberts's avatar
    Katherine Roberts
    | Permalink
    I must admit when I first met Jerome he scared the daylights out of me. I soon realized that he was a man of conviction passionate in his beliefs. I most admired his teaching, I may not have always agreed with him but he always challenged me to look at things from multiple perspectives. I try to continue to challenge myself to do this all the time and it never fails that I learn something new or think about things in a new way - for this I am very greatful.
    Rest in peace Jrome.
  7. Ann Patterson's avatar
    Ann Patterson
    | Permalink
    Like others, I am also saddened to learn of Jerome's death. A true advocate for culturally responsive systems of care for children's mental health. He will be remembered by so many. May you rest in peace and know you made a difference.
  8. King Davis's avatar
    King Davis
    | Permalink
    I spoke with Jerome a lot over the past two years as his illness progressed. He sought experimental treatment in Boston, but the prognosis was not very good. Throughout, he remained the philosopher, sage, and tribal elder. Our last conversation was about 6 weeks ago when he talked on the phone for about 30 minutes recalling many of the struggles to improve services for children. He felt some remorse that he was unable to revise and edit his autobiography - words and life examples that he saw as important to young black men who could learn from his life journey. J was a unique individual who wore his commitment on his shirt, in his voice, and through his actions. He prodded each of us to advocate for kids, people of color, and anyone who was oppressed by "the system". In our last conversation, he accepted his death as he did the circumstances of his life - no regrets! We have missed him and his contributions for many seasons.
  9. Kenley Wade's avatar
    Kenley Wade
    | Permalink
    Jerome was truly a 'one-of-a-kind' individual. He was true to his values and beliefs and 'lived' them out each day without wavering. I had the privilege of working with Jerome as a co-member of the national committee on cultural competence, which began in 1987. I was fortunate to maintian a professional and personal relationship with him across the intervening years. He truly was, by his own definition, a 'warrior' for children and families who faced difficult challenges. He will be truly missed.
  10. John Morris's avatar
    John Morris
    | Permalink
    Jerome was an original: passionate in his pursuit of social justice, compassionate for people who had been disadvantaged in any way, and visionary in his grasp of what matters for children, youth and their families. A fearless advocate, he was also a loving, loyal and concerned friend. So many of us feel that our lives are richer for having touched his. Godspeed, old friend.
  11. Helen Snyder's avatar
    Helen Snyder
    | Permalink
    While Jerome tutored many of us to "walk the walk" it will be impossible to fill his shoes. When I attended my first NASMHPD CYF meeting Jerome, Gary MacBeth, Gary Blau, Cliff Davis and Lenore Behar overwhelmed me with their knowledge, passion and committment to developing a culturally competent system of care for children. Many others taught me much but Jerome's tolerance, unswerving passion, and dedication set a high standard and his willingness to speak out and take risks contributed to creating opportunities for children and families not just in South Carolina but in many states.
  12. Bill Bane's avatar
    Bill Bane
    | Permalink
    What a terrible loss of a wonderful colleague. He was passionate believer of the importance of culture in our lives, using every opportunity to remind us of that. My favorite memory of him was during NASMHPD CYF Division meeting in South Carolina, when he brought in a group to talk about the Gullah people and their history. Always the teacher, he wanted to be sure we took away an understanding of their culture and its impact.
  13. Richard Guess's avatar
    Richard Guess
    | Permalink
    Jerome had a special gift for stimulating thought-provoking conversation and a special way of encouraging folk to speak their minds and to stand up for themselves and their beliefs. He seemed to always have the special "twinkle" of Coyote in his eye which always kept one guessing just what was going to come out of his mouth next. We will miss you Jerome!
  14. Mario Hernandez's avatar
    Mario Hernandez
    | Permalink
    What a passionate champion for the rights of people. I presented h
    With Jerome and never looked forward to following him! I wish him peace and love. I am sure he is already making things better for us in the afterlife.
  15. Roy Praschil's avatar
    Roy Praschil
    | Permalink
    I am stunned and heart broken to hear about Jerome. I met Jerome in the 1980's when he became the Children's Mental Health Director in South Carolina. As many of you have already pointed out, Jerome was outspoken but always on target and was one of the best advocates for children, youth and families. Jerome served as the Vice Chairperson (1990 - 1992) and Chairperson (1992 - 1994) for the Children, Youth & Families Division of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD). We will miss him greatly and will always have fond memories of him.
    Rest in Peace Jerome.
  16. Barbara Friesen's avatar
    Barbara Friesen
    | Permalink
    Jerome was a pioneer in so many ways. He was tenacious in his dedication to improving the system of services, policies, and society's responses to children and youth with mental health conditions. Especially, his focus on cultural competence at the systems, as well as at the individual level, was unwavering. He was willing to take risks, to be involved in controversy, and to put important things such as career goals and funding on the line in order to stimulate change. He was an early advocate for families in an authentic and realistic way. Although he will be greatly missed, his legacy is woven into so many areas of children's mental health reform that he cannot be forgotten.
  17. Karen Blase's avatar
    Karen Blase
    | Permalink
    We have lost a wonderful professional and champion for children, youth, and families. He was an outspoken advocate who taught us all so much. He will be missed but the legacy of his work lives on.
  18. Susan Robinson's avatar
    Susan Robinson
    | Permalink
    Jerome reminded many of us as friends, colleagues, and citizens that we have an important role to play every day that we put our feet on the floor and walk out the door. We believe we can make a difference in the lives of children, youth, families and communities. Every day we are the ones who must wake up, committed to listening to others, challenging the ‘norm’, thinking ‘outside the box’, and taking one step closer to the change we seek. …and by the way if we take respite in soaking up some good music and fascinating art along the way…our day is all the better for it… Thank you Jerome; we learned a lot from one another. The world is a better place. I am a better person because of your presence among us.
  19. Rene` Anderson's avatar
    Rene` Anderson
    | Permalink
    I met Jerome Hanley back in 2000-2001 when he came to Tampa, FL and also St. Pete as he was one of the guest speakers at the 1st Annual African American Community Mental Health Forum. He was such an inspiration and cutting edge pioneer-as he shared words of wisdom and encouragement in his purposeful message. My prayers go out to his freinds and family.
  20. Diane Sondheimer's avatar
    Diane Sondheimer
    | Permalink
    You knew when Jerome entered a room that there was going to be controversy. I called him the systems of care "town crier". He was not afraid to speak the truth and never minced words. I appreciated him so much and even made sure he was in certain meetings to help stir the pot a little. I loved him and I will miss him greatly.
  21. Joan Dodge's avatar
    Joan Dodge
    | Permalink
    I am sorry to hear of Jerome's passing. He was a pioneer in many ways for building culturally responsive systems of care for youth and their families. He always brought his own flavor and passion to various meetings over the years and will be missed.
  22. Alice "Elaine" Slaton's avatar
    Alice "Elaine" Slaton
    | Permalink
    Like many, I owe a debt of gratitude to Jerome. His compassion and clarity about the implications of race, class and power on the children's mental health field were so important. I wish his family peace. And, I wish that the rest of us keep his teachings alive.
  23. Ann Maletic's avatar
    Ann Maletic
    | Permalink
    I concur with both the statements above. I will miss Jerome - his insight, authenticity and passion for looking out for the underdog/comforting the afflicted and afflicting those of us that are too comfortable.
  24. Gary Macbeth's avatar
    Gary Macbeth
    | Permalink
    I am very saddened by the news of Jerome's passing. I have known Jerome for many years dating back to CASSP and the early development of the NASMHPD CYF Division. Always a profound thinker about systems development, effects of racism on vulnerable populations and service delivery, addressing disparities, and promoting cultural and linguistic competence, Jerome encouraged us to be introspective in our work, challenge assumptions, and always to strive for a higher vision.

    Jerome has left us all a huge legacy as a pioneer in our field and I will miss him.
    1. Leave a Comment