PUBLISHED: 4:38 PM on Wednesday, November 28, 2007
State boards on substance abuse, mental health hire executive director
J. Kate Burkhart has been named executive director of the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the Alaska Mental Health Board, effective Dec. 3.

Burkhart comes to the position from the Alaska Office of the Ombudsman, where she was an assistant ombudsman. As executive director, Burkhart plans to capitalize on her strengths as a collaborator. Her team-building experience and familiarity with state government provide a strong foundation for her leadership role with the boards.

Previously, Burkhart spent seven years as a lawyer in Alaska and Tennessee. Her practice focused on poverty law, domestic violence, Native and tribal law, and included work on behalf of mental health consumers and those experiencing substance abuse problems. She often represented clients who were low-income, elderly or children, and served as a guardian ad litem for children in state custody.

Burkhart holds a law degree from Tulane Law School, and a bachelor of arts from Ursinus College.

The Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the Alaska Mental Health Board are the state agencies charged with planning and providing community education on behavioral health services in Alaska. The boards' joint mission is to advocate for programs and services that promote healthy, independent, productive Alaskans.