Sumner Mental Health Center Executive Director Dr. Richard L. Gaskill retires after 43 years

Greg Williams
Wellington Daily News
Sumner Mental Health Center in Wellington

The Board of Directors of Sumner Mental Health Center has announced that Executive Director Dr. Richard L. Gaskill will retire on November 30, 2021, after 43 years of working in Sumner County.

Over these years he has functioned as a therapist, Children’s Director, Clinical Director, and Executive Director for Sumner Mental Health Center.

During this time, he brought many innovative programs to Sumner County as well as the state mental health system. He guided innovative practices in service delivery through the introduction of Play Therapy, Filial Therapy, Early Childhood Mental Health, the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, and most recently School-Based Mental Health.

Much of this work was directed toward improving trauma-informed care of children. These initiatives produced state and national training, as well as a number of national publications disseminating these concepts. These innovations brought visitors from across Kansas, the nation, and several foreign countries wanting to learn about these programs.

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During his tenure, Sumner Mental Health Center has enjoyed a proud history of advancing the quality of care for children and adults. Dr. Gaskill has been recognized many times for his innovative work in the delivery of mental health services.

Headshot of Dr. Rick Gaskill of the Sumner Mental Health Center

In 1997 he was honored by the Futures Unlimited Chairman’s Award for his work with at-risk preschool children. He became a Fellow of the Child Trauma Academy in 2004 and was named Kansas Head Start Partner of the year in 2005. In 2006, he was awarded the Regional Administrator’s Award for the AFC Region VI of the Department of Health and Human Services for his development of therapeutic preschool programing.

Dr. Gaskill was given the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Service to Children in 2014 and recognized by the National Association to Protect Children in 2015. Wichita State University awarded him the Champion of Education Award in 2017 and inducted him into the Applied Sciences Hall of Fame in 2020.

In 2017 he was given the Alice Eberhart-Wright Visionary Award by the Kansas Association for Infant Mental Health. He received the Phyllis Rae McGinely Award from the Child Trauma Academy in 2018. The same year he became the first recipient of the Rick Gaskill Luminary Award, named in his honor, by the Kansas Association for Play Therapy.

Rick plans to continue to teach at Wichita State University, lecture at workshops, and write in retirement. He also plans to spend more time with his grandchildren at their cabin.

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The Sumner Mental Health Center Board of Directors has named Jeanne M. Brown M.A. as the new Executive Director beginning December 1, 2021. Ms. Brown will continue her leadership role with SMHC which began over 25 years ago.

Headshot of Dr. Jeanine Brown of the Sumner Mental Health Center

She began her career as a staff therapist, assumed the Children’s Services Director position in 2009, and has served as Clinical Director since 2015. Ms. Brown has been an integral part of the innovative efforts in service delivery at SMHC.

She has been an essential leader in the development, training, and dissemination of all programs developed during her tenure. Because of her central role, the Board believes Ms. Brown is the right person to continue and further develop the exemplary programming associated with Sumner Mental Health for many years