On April 16th, Kevin Cleare received the Lilly Reintegration Award at the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare’s annual conference in Chicago. The Lilly Reintegration Awards celebrate the achievements of those in the community who dedicate themselves to improving the lives of individuals with serious mental illnesses, and the achievements of those living with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who battle tremendous odds to improve their own lives and the lives of their peers. Mr. Cleare’s transformation from justice-involved mental health consumer to professional clinician is an inspiring example of perseverance in the face of many obstacles. After earning his GED in prison, Mr. Cleare went on to graduate from a peer specialist training program, became employed as a peer specialist on CASES’ Nathaniel ACT team, earned his Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Use Counseling (CASAC) certification, was promoted to his current position as a substance abuse specialist, and is now a talented advocate for individuals with serious mental illness involved in the criminal justice system.
In nominating Mr. Cleare for the award, Joel Copperman, CASES’ President/CEO, commended Mr. Cleare for refining CASES’ protocols for connecting mental health consumers with entitlements upon release from jail and for setting an example that change is possible regardless of mental illness and criminal justice involvement. Mr. Cleare received an award of $10,000 to be donated to a nonprofit of his choice. He opted to donate the money to CASES, a portion of which will be used to sponsor another staff member who his pursuing his CASAC credential.