Darrell Steinberg, former Senate pro tempore for the state of California, has joined the faculty of the UC Davis School of Medicine as director of policy and advocacy for the recently launched UC Davis Behavioral Health Center of Excellence.
Steinberg, who will be visiting professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, was well known during his legislative career as a champion of the mental-health needs of the people of Sacramento and California. His crowning achievements include the passage and implementation of groundbreaking mental-health legislation that dramatically increased access to care for millions of Californians. Steinberg’s partnership with UC Davis continues this longstanding commitment to greater access to mental-health services statewide.
“With UC Davis as a partner, my goal is to strengthen and unite our voice for mental and behavioral health in California,” Steinberg said. “We will connect and inform the next generation of policy leaders, researchers, health professionals, providers and our communities."
Among his many accomplishments, Steinberg is the author of Proposition 63, the California Mental Health Services Act, approved by voters in November 2004. To date it has raised more than $1 billion in state and federal funds for mental-health programs. Steinberg also served as chair of the ballot measure steering committee formed to pass the initiative.
His more than 20 years in public life include six as a member of the California Assembly and six as a member of the Sacramento City Council. He left the state Senate after being termed out in 2014.
Steinberg will help develop the behavioral health center’s policy arm, by providing consultation and advice related to its goals and initiatives and by meeting with community, university and state leaders to advocate for mental-health programs, said center Director Cameron Carter.
“Sen. Steinberg’s leadership role as director of policy and advocacy will serve as a much-needed bridge between research and policy and between the mental- and behavioral-health communities,” Carter said.
The Behavioral Health Center of Excellence is UC Davis Health System’s hub for bringing together its wide-ranging research, education, clinical and community engagement programs as they relate to neuroscience, mental-health and public-health improvement. The unique academic research center is designed to improve scientific investigations into mental and behavioral health, and engage with communities around the state to improve treatment options.
Funded by Proposition 63, the $7.5 million UC Davis center will be a catalyst for expanding the understanding of problems surrounding behavioral health, and serve as a national model for finding answers for individuals, their families, and their communities. It is mirrored by a $7.5 million sister center at UCLA.
“We already are expanding research to better understand all facets of mental and behavioral health through a pilot award program,” said Frederick J. Meyers, vice dean of the School of Medicine, who launched the new center. “We are honored to add Sen. Steinberg’s leadership in policy and advocacy.”
Steinberg is a shareholder in the Sacramento office of the international law firm of GreenbergTraurig, LLP, where he is chair of the California Government Law and Policy Practice. In 2010, he was honored with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award from the Kennedy Library Foundation in recognition of his leadership during the 2008 bipartisan budget negotiations. His work enabled California’s fiscal recovery from a $42 billion dollar deficit following the most recent recession.
In addition to mental-health care, Steinberg is highly regarded for advancing health causes on multiple fronts, including autism care, foster care and homeless services.
"Sen. Steinberg will add a public mental-health perspective to a variety of our educational courses for psychiatry residents,” said Robert Hales, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “He will enable us to expand our recruitment efforts for future residents interested in community-based and public mental-health services."
As visiting professor, Steinberg will not receive a salary.