Baugher comes home to lead center

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, October 15, 2009

Andalusia High School graduate and new South Central Alabama Mental Health Center executive director Diane Baugher said she enjoys her job because it helps her “give a voice to those who can’t always speak for themselves.”

“Many of our clients don’t have the resources they can tap,” said Baugher, who started her post a month ago. “Whenever you can help one person, whether it’s giving them what they need for medical care or something as simple as getting them a hot meal for a day, then you’re also helping the community as a whole.”

Baugher graduated from AHS in 1971 and has more than 30 years experience in the health care field, most of which came at the Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama in Decatur. She was the chief financial officer there for 15 years before deciding to “return home.”

“My parents, William and Zelda Grissett, still live here and it was an opportunity for me to be closer to them,” she said of her decision to move back to Andalusia. “It was also the next step in my career goals.”

The South Central Alabama Mental Health Center employs 130 staff members and is certified by the Department of Mental Health. It is a comprehensive community mental health center serving mentally ill, mentally retarded, and substance abuse consumers for Covington, Butler, Coffee, and Crenshaw counties.

Baugher said her immediate goal is to make sure the center can meet the needs of its service area.

“Just like most of the state of Alabama, we’re facing some financial struggles right now,” she said. “But we’re here to meet the needs of our population. We’re going to identify what we’re doing well, and what still needs to be done, and then we’re going to respond to those needs in the best way we can.”

Baugher is licensed as a certified public accountant and has a master’s degree in business administration from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

She is married to Joe Baugher, and they have a daughter.