Human Services Commissioner Names Two New Assistant Commissioners to Oversee Mental Health & Addiction Services and NJ FamilyCare

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Human Services Commissioner Names Two New Assistant Commissioners to Oversee Mental Health & Addiction Services and NJ FamilyCare

Commissioner Adelman Names Renee Burawski to lead Mental Health & Addiction Services; Gregory Woods to Lead Medicaid Program

June 14, 2024

(TRENTON) – Commissioner Sarah Adelman today named new leaders for two critical Human Services divisions. Assistant Commissioner Renee Burawski will lead the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and Assistant Commissioner Gregory Woods will lead the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services which administers NJ FamilyCare, the state Medicaid program.

“I am thrilled to announce Renee and Greg as new Assistant Commissioners and I am grateful for their continued and expanded leadership within NJ Human Services,” Commissioner Adelman said. “Both have been invaluable members of our team, and their knowledge and experience has fueled many of our most important initiatives. I look forward to their continued contributions as they oversee two vital divisions of Human Services.”

Burawski becomes Assistant Commissioner following Valerie Mielke, who was recently elevated to Deputy Commissioner for Health Services. Woods replaces Jennifer Langer Jacobs, who after five years leading the state’s Medicaid program is leaving state service for new opportunities.

The Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services is responsible for the coordination, administration, management and supervision of the community mental health system, and regulating, monitoring, planning and funding of substance use prevention, treatment and recovery support services. It manages, among other initiatives, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, the 844-ReachNJ addiction treatment helpline, and the StopOverdoses.nj.gov program that offers free life-saving naloxone distribution at participating pharmacies.

Burawski had been serving as the deputy assistant commissioner at DMHAS, overseeing several units and providing leadership direction and management in statewide planning and expansion for programs serving individuals with a substance use disorder and individuals diagnosed with a mental illness.  Her tenure at DMHAS also includes serving as the Director for Sandy Recovery and developing supportive housing, mental health and substance use disorder treatment services for adults with a serious mental illness and/or substance use disorder. She also had served as chief of staff, providing leadership and oversight in many areas including the transformation of contracts from cost-based to fee-for-service.

Before joining DMHAS, Burawski spent the previous decade working in disaster behavioral health and developed and oversaw several disaster response and recovery programs.  During the course of her career, she worked in county government as a mental health administrator and in the non-profit arena in various behavioral health programs including outpatient, partial care and Intensive Family Support Services programs.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Seton Hall University and a Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers University.

“I thank Commissioner Adelman for this opportunity, and am excited at the chance to follow in Deputy Commissioner Mielke’s footsteps and help guide New Jersey through the challenges of making quality mental health and addiction services available to those in need,” Burawski said. “Deputy Commissioner Mielke’s steadfast leadership has helped countless New Jersey residents through many difficult challenges, and we will work hard to build on her legacy. The great thing about DMHAS is it’s all about saving lives, and we have taken strides to eliminate barriers to care and make resources accessible, but we know there’s always more work to do. I look forward to working with the amazing team at DMHAS to continue finding ways to improve and save lives and ensure quality care is available for New Jerseyans in need.”

The Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services manages the state’s Medicaid program is known as NJ FamilyCare, which provides health coverage to children and adults with low- or moderate incomes. The state- and federally-funded program provides a comprehensive range of services, including doctor visits, hospital services, prescriptions, tests, vision care, mental health care, dental, and nursing and community-based home care. This includes the Cover All Kids program and initiatives related to the First Lady’s NurtureNJ maternal and infant health effort.

Since 2019, Woods has led policy and innovation work at DMAHS. In that capacity he led multiple major initiatives, including the renewal of New Jersey’s comprehensive 1115 demonstration, the introduction of new payment models and program innovations to NJ FamilyCare, and the redetermination of special eligibility rules put in place during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Before his time at the state, he worked at the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, where he served in a number of roles, including as the Director of the Policy and Programs Group. He has also worked at the federal Department of Health and Human Services, for a health policy consulting firm, and for a non-profit focused on behavioral health issues.

He has a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs, and a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University.

“I thank Commissioner Adelman for her confidence in me, and look forward to working with the talented team that oversees NJ FamilyCare to make sure our programs and services continue to meet our members’ health care needs in the best way possible,” Woods said. “I also thank Assistant Commissioner Jacobs for being an exemplary friend, mentor and leader who has strongly positioned DMAHS for success going forward. We have much work to do, and I’m excited to get started and continue to find new approaches to provide high quality care for those who rely on NJ FamilyCare.”

Commissioner Adelman praised Jacobs’ services to the people of New Jersey and noted she will be missed.

“Jenn’s leadership has been nothing short of extraordinary as she guided NJ FamilyCare and its more than 2 million members through a global pandemic while continuing to advance many of our most important initiatives and accomplishments here at NJ Human Services,” Commissioner Adelman said. “Jenn has improved Medicaid vendor performance, advanced managed care accountability and turned innovative ideas into reality, such as Cover All Kids and expanding coverage for pregnant women as part of our efforts to make New Jersey the safest place to have a baby. The work has been challenging, but Jenn was always up to the task, with a seemingly never-ending supply of knowledge, experience and patience. She will be missed and her legacy will be long-lasting. Thanks to Jenn, we will have generations of healthier New Jerseyans positioned to succeed and thrive.”

“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve as Medicaid Director with the incredibly hard working NJ FamilyCare team,” Assistant Commissioner Jacobs said.  “Together, we have advanced the program to improve the experience of the people we serve across the entire continuum of their lives, from pre-natal care to primary care, complex care, behavioral health, social needs, and long-term care. The program is vast, need in our communities is deep, and the work goes on.  I am proud to have served with the NJ FamilyCare team through this unprecedented time – and excited for Greg’s fresh leadership to continue the work we have been doing together.”

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