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College of Arts and Sciences


Harriet G. McCombs, Ph.D.

Harriet G. McCombs, Ph.D.

Harriet G. McCombs, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2016 James Jones Lifetime Achievement Award.

During the 2016 APA Annual Convention in Denver, the APA Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) held an award ceremony honoring five MFP psychologists. Harriet G. McCombs, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2016 James Jones Lifetime Achievement Award.

McCombs has a remarkable career bringing mental health knowledge and skills to bear in the public interest. As a member of the first Minority Fellowship Program class and the youngest person to receive the doctoral degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, she took her skills to Wayne State University, Yale University, University of South Carolina and the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. She joined the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a Pubic Analyst and developed three substantive programmatic areas: (1) Minority Mental Health; (2) Rural Mental Health and (3) Faith Community Partnerships. Her expertise was instrumental in developing measureable standards of culturally competent mental health services. Her sustained efforts to systematically address barriers to rural mental health services earned her the "Going to Bat Award" of the National Association for Rural Mental Health. This prestigious award has among its recipients United States Congress members, Senators, and the current Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services.

McCombs is a consensus builder and innovator and active in many national and international groups to bring mental health to the front of public health service delivery. She is a champion of people traumatized by disasters and holds certificate in Global Mental Health from the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. For her work in Kenya with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement community-based trauma services, she received SAMHSA's Superior External Service Award.

As Senior Mental Health Advisor to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator and the Director of the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC), Dr. McCombs provided national leadership and strategic direction to assure integration of primary health care and behavioral health in HRSA programs. She provided national leadership for the Health Disparities Collaborative Health Care Model and the BPHC's response to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.

McCombs has been an invited presenter at the Rosalyn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy and briefings to The Special Committee on Aging, U.S. Senate; the Health Braintrust of Congressional Black Caucus of the U.S. Congress and numerous public interest councils. (e.g., National Advisory Mental Health Council, National Mental Health Leadership Forum; the Federal Interdepartmental Task Force on Homelessness and Severe Mental Illness; National Joint Working Group on Telemedicine; the Office of the Surgeon General; and HHS Working groups on Eliminating Health Disparities).

McCombs continues to demonstrate commitment to public service and access to culturally competent mental health care.