Debra Rex, president and CEO of Beech Brook, a Pepper Pike-based behavioral health agency, has been honored with The Samuel Gerson Nordlinger Child Welfare Leadership Award from the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. The Nordlinger Award, presented Oct. 16 at the Alliance’s national conference in Pittsburgh, recognizes an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the advancement of quality services for children and families.

The award calls attention to the leader’s work within the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, child welfare field, and national public policy arena.

“The Alliance is pleased to honor Debra with this award and to have her and Beech Brook as part of our member network,” said Susan Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance. “It is an honor to pay tribute in this way to an individual who daily demonstrates her strong commitment to the betterment of the community.”

During her 23 years of leadership, Rex has guided the agency through a period of steady growth and expanded programming for children and families, including the expansion of Beech Brook’s continuum of care to include far more prevention and early intervention programs – addressing problems early in life before they become severe and giving more children the chance to grow up safely in their families and communities. She has overseen the agency’s transition from a primarily residential treatment center to an agency which now provides more than 40 community-based programs to 20,000 children and families each year.

Under Rex’s tenure, Beech Brook has been awarded numerous national demonstration grants in adoption and health and human services and has created cutting edge programming in many areas, including: attachment issues; concurrent planning; parenting/mentoring programs for teen mothers; treatment of complex trauma; early childhood mental health; and the award-winning Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Program which has dramatically decreased hospitalizations and promoted independent living for 16-25 year olds with serious mental illness. She has also overseen the expansion of Beech Brook’s residential treatment program with the development of a short-term intensive treatment unit and, most recently, a group home for youth transitioning from juvenile to adult living.

Rex is a leading advocate for children and families, both as an active member and chair of numerous mental health organizations and coalitions at both the state and local levels.

This is the second national award presented to Rex this year. In August, she received the 2014 Behavioral Healthcare Champion Award from Behavioral Healthcare magazine.

Beech Brook serves approximately 20,000 children and families in Northeast Ohio through more than 40 programs including residential treatment for the most seriously troubled children and teens, foster care,

school-based mental health programs, outpatient therapy, and a wide range of community-based services to strengthen and support families. The agency is headquartered at 3737 Lander Rd. in Pepper Pike, with additional offices in Cleveland, Elyria and Akron as well as school-based programs in Toledo and Chardon. For more information about Beech Brook, visit

The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities is a national organization dedicated to achieving a vision of a healthy society and strong communities for all children, adults, and families. Working with and through its member network on leadership and advocacy, the Alliance strives to reduce the number of people living in poverty, increase the number of people with opportunities to live healthy lives, and increase the number of people with access to educational and employment success.

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