Board Opportunity
Mental Health Advocacy Services

Organization Profile

Mission Statement

Mental Health Advocacy Services protects and advances the legal rights of low-income adults and children with mental health disabilities and empowers them to assert those rights in order to maximize their autonomy, achieve equity, and secure the resources they need to thrive.

Organization Description

Mental Health Advocacy Services (MHAS) has been a leader in the disability rights movement and specifically in the fight for equal rights for people with mental health disabilities since its founding in 1977. Through a combination of direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, education, and technical assistance, MHAS advocates for the civil rights, full inclusion, and equality of adults and children with mental health disabilities.

The free legal and social services that MHAS provides have literally saved thousands of lives. With an MHAS advocate by their side, individuals with severe mental illness are able to get off the streets, get out of jail, obtain employment, get into treatment, improve their health, connect with their community, and be empowered to live more meaningful lives. In addition to the direct, individual services MHAS provides to more than 3,000 individuals every year, MHAS has become a trusted resource in the broader community, providing free training and education to not only mental health consumers but also to social workers, therapists, nurses, doctors, law enforcement, and other professionals in the areas of public benefits, housing discrimination, homelessness prevention, re-entry post-incarceration, and consumer finance so that these professionals can more holistically and successfully serve this population.

Service Area
Regional: Los Angeles County with some state-wide advocacy

Staff Size
15 people

Board Size
24 people

Average Board Tenure
5 years

Equity Statement

The mission of Mental Health Advocacy Services is to protect and advance the rights of low-income adults and children with mental health disabilities and empower them to assert those rights in order to maximize their autonomy, achieve equity, and secure the resources they need to thrive. We believe that our mission is most effectively fulfilled through a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values and practices.

Building and sustaining diversity, equity, and inclusion requires an ongoing commitment that must find full expression in our organizational culture, values, norms, policies, and behaviors. Throughout our work, we support diversity across all lines of difference, including race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, age, economic circumstance, and religion. We recognize that systemic racism is embedded in all aspects of our society, including our civil legal system. We therefore specifically further commit to better centering racial justice in our own organization and in the work we do as part of our larger community.

Mental Health Advocacy Services recognizes that its effectiveness will be enhanced and its mission well served when the practice of inclusion is reflected in all aspects of the organization and specifically when:

Board Membership
Our Board of Directors reflects the diversity of Los Angeles and our Board recruitment, engagement, and evaluation processes reflect a commitment to the value of inclusion. We foster a Board room that seeks and values diverse perspectives and ensures each member of the Board can actively contribute to fulfilling the organization’s mission.

Clients and Services
We create and implement programs using our awareness of differences and treat all clients, staff, and partners with respect. We deliver services in a trauma-informed and culturally competent way and our services are accessible to the many communities who live in Los Angeles. We seek feedback and input from both clients and staff and work with a diverse group of stakeholders and community-based organizations to ensure that our programs are inclusive.

Policies and Procedures
Our commitment to inclusiveness is evident in our organizational policies and procedures, as part of our strategic plan, within our organizational goals, and in how we operate our business.

Employment
Our staff at every level reflects the diversity of Los Angeles and our recruitment, hiring, and management practices reflect a commitment to the value of inclusion. We foster a workplace that respects each individual, seeks and values diverse perspectives, and ensures each employee can actively contribute to fulfilling the organization’s mission.

Donors
We share our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as core value and practices with current and potential donors and encourage both individual donors and institutional funders to consider and embrace these values.

Programming Area(s)
Disabilities, Housing / Homelessness, Legal Services, Mental Health

http://www.mhas-la.org

Address

3255 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 902

Los Angeles, CA 90010

Board Position

Term Length
2 years but this may be renewed years

Position Description

MHAS-Board-Job-Description.pdf

Organization Mission Statement and Activity Summary

The mission of Mental Health Advocacy Services (MHAS) is to protect and advance the legal rights of children and adults with mental health disabilities in order to maximize autonomy, promote equality, and secure the resources they need to thrive.

MHAS’ activities are concentrated in the following areas:

  • Direct legal assistance, with an emphasis on obtaining government benefits and services, protecting individual rights, and fighting discrimination;
  • Training and technical assistance to agencies, advocates, mental health professionals, attorneys, consumers and family members; and
  • Participation in public policy development and impact litigation.

Board of Directors Mission Statement and Responsibilities

The Board of Directors is committed to assisting MHAS fulfill its mission. Each member of the Board of Directors owes MHAS a duty of care and a duty of loyalty. Among other things, members of the Board of Directors select and remove MHAS’ officers and direct the management of MHAS’ activities and affairs, including reviewing and approving the annual budget and financial statements.

Every director is expected to:

  • Be well informed about MHAS, its mission, its operations and the transactions in which it proposes to engage;
  • Regularly attend and participate in board meetings (every other month); and
  • Exercise his or her independent judgment on the matter at hand.

In addition, every member of the Board of Directors who is able to will provide financial support to MHAS. Every director will:

  • Make a personally significant gift to MHAS, with all Board members encouraged to give, at minimum, $1,000 annually; and
  • Raise $5,000 through any combination of personal gift, firm gift, etc…

Estimated monthly time commitment
2 hours

Board charitable giving policy
Mental Health Advocacy Services (MHAS) does not have a strict Board charitable giving policy.  Rather, MHAS is looking for individuals who (1) care about the mission of MHAS, (2) are willing to serve as ambassadors for MHAS in their respective professional fields and personal communities, and (3) are able to contribute in some other meaningful way to advancing any of the organization's strategic priorities.  To the extent a Board member is personally able to, they are asked to make a personally significant gift to MHAS and raise $5,000 through any combination of personal gift, gift from their employer, and otherwise personally solicited funds.

Desired board member experience/expertise
Accounting
Communications
Corporate Executive
Finance
HR
IT
Legal
Nonprofit Executive
Programs/Projects

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