Retiring mental health leader praised

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Jim Graziano, director of the Orleans County Mental Health Department, is honored by Pat Crowley, project director for the Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition.

ALBION – Human service agencies in Orleans County have a friend in Jim Graziano, leader of the Orleans County Mental Health Department the past eight years.

Graziano worked well with other agency leaders, and has been committed to providing services for residents, said Jan Albanese, a member of the Community Services Board and leader of the Act Program.

When Graziano was hired eight years ago, some in the community worried he might not be fully committed to the job because he lives in Erie County. But Albanese said Graziano showed his dedication to Orleans.

“He quickly reached out and collaborated with local agencies,” she said Wednesday when Graziano was honored at the Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition.

Graziano, who is retiring, also was presented with a “Special Recognition Award” during the County Legislature meeting on Wednesday.

“This presentation is bittersweet,” said Legislator Bill Eick. “We hate to see you go.”

Mark O’Brien, the Mental Health’s clinic coordinator, will succeed Graziano in leading the department.

Albanese praised Graziano for taking a leadership role with the coalition of agencies. He moderated two public forums, one on underage drinking and another on prescription drug abuse. The Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse in 2007 presented him with a director’s award for his work in the county.

Graziano commended the department’s partner agencies for their commitment to residents.

“I’m glad I’ve been able to make a difference,” he said.