James Plastiras Director of Public Information New York State Office of Mental Health 518-474-6540 james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov

May 04, 2021

New York State Recognizes Capital Region Mental Health Commissioner with Lifetime Achievement Award

Katherine Alonge-Coons Honored for her Career-Long Commitment to Improving Mental Health Outcomes for Children and Improving the Mental Health System

Albany, NY - New York State is honoring Katherine G. Alonge-Coons, the Rensselaer County Mental Health Commissioner, with the 2021 ‘What’s Great in our State’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Lifetime Achievement award is given annually to recognize professionals and volunteers who have shown a lifetime commitment to strengthening the mental health of children, youth, and families. It includes those who have worked in the development, administration, or delivery of mental health services.

Katherine is being recognized for her career-long dedication to direct care, advocacy, and the oversight of programs for youth struggling with mental health issues. She began her career over 30 years ago in Rensselaer County as a child and adolescent therapist and then moved into the newly formed Intensive Case Management Program (ICM). She developed and expanded the program in Rensselaer County and became a resource for children's ICM programs across NYS.

Katherine developed the children's single point of entry team for the county and nurtured the development of the parent advocacy program and the youth advocate program.  Today, she serves as the Rensselaer County Mental Health Commissioner and as the Chairperson of the NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors.

Katherine G. Alonge-Coons show us ‘What’s Great in Our State’ by impacting thousands of families with her advocacy and program development efforts on state and local levels,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “Her passion for helping children and families in New York State has helped influence policy, programming, and funding for children’s mental health.  We thank Katherine and all our honorees for their hard work and commitment to children’s mental health.”

Katherine was presented with the award at the annual ‘What’s Great in our State 2021’ event on May 4th held virtually via Zoom. The celebration recognizes the individuals and programs that are successfully advancing the cause of children’s mental health in New York State.

“I am humbled to be this year’s recipient of the lifetime achievement award in recognition of the work I have accomplished in the field of Children’s Mental Health,” said Katherine Alonge-Coons, Mental Health Commissioner for Rensselaer County.  “I have been privileged over the years to provide direct service to numerous children, youth, and families, and have learned much from each and every one of them.  Now in the Administration of services, I strive to uphold the voice of those we serve.  There is much work yet to be done, and this may only be accomplished through collaborative and respectful relationships involving all.  I look forward to continuing efforts to innovatively deliver care/services and strive to fulfill all that this award represents.”


What’s Great in Our State’

The ‘What’s Great in Our State’ event was first launched in 2010 and is typically held during Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a national movement that raises awareness about the importance of children’s mental health. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was reorganized as a virtual celebration.

The event is sponsored by six New York State agencies and several children’s mental health advocacy organizations: The Office of Mental Health, the Council on Children and Families, the Department of Health, the State Education Department, the Office of Children and Family Services and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, Early Care & Learning Council, Families Together in New York State, Inc., Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc., National Alliance on Mental Illness - New York State, New York State Network for Youth Success, Prevent Child Abuse New York, Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc., and the Suicide Prevention Center of New York.


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