State’s Mental Health Commission Welcomes Senator Cortese


California State Senator for District 15, Dave Cortese was appointed by Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins to Mental Health Commission.

SACRAMENTO – The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission is pleased to welcome California State Senator Dave Cortese as its newest Commissioner after his appointment on September 7, 2021.

“The Commission is grateful for the Senate’s continued support of mental health and welcomes Senator Cortese’s commitment to this critical work,” said Lynne Ashbeck, Commission Chair and senior vice president of community engagement and population wellness for Valley Children’s Healthcare.

“During a time when mental health challenges have grown for so many, especially our student community, we must expand existing support systems for those that are struggling while creating new ones to meet the additional need,” says Senator Cortese.

“I look forward to working with my new colleagues on the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, that all bring diverse expertise, to affect change in this area. It is clear that the pandemic will have implications on the psychological and social well-being of our younger generation for years to come.”

Senator Dave Cortese was elected in November of 2020 to represent State Senate District 15 which encompasses much of Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley. In addition to his career as an attorney and business owner, the Senator previously served on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors for over a decade, with four years as Board President, on the San Jose City Council for eight years, including two years as Vice Mayor, and as a trustee for the East Side Union High School District for eight years.

Senator Cortese grew up in San Jose as part of a family that has been active in civic, cultural, and business activities for generations. He graduated from Bellarmine College Preparatory followed by University of California, Davis where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science, and his Juris Doctorate from Lincoln University Law School in San Jose. He has four children and is married to his wife Pattie Cortese who is currently a Trustee on the Eastside Union High School Board.

During his nearly three decades in public service, he has brought the community together to address and reduce homelessness, combat climate change, expand public transit options, reform the Santa Clara County’s jail custody operations, fight for the rights of immigrants, and was a major architect of School Linked Services, a program that connects students and families to County social services and counseling.

“Over the last several years, the Commission has been strengthening our commitment to school mental health, as well increasing our work to reduce criminal justice involvement of people living with unmet mental health needs,” said Toby Ewing, the Commission’s executive director. “The Commission welcomes Senator Cortese’s support of our mission to improve mental health outcomes for all students through strong school and County partnerships, as well as programs like Santa Clara’s jail custody reform, in reducing the risk of criminal justice involvement for those suffering with mental health challenges.”

The Senator will round out the 16-person Commission, established in 2004 by the Mental Health Services Act and charged with the responsibility of driving transformational change in California’s mental health system. As a statutory requirement of the Mental Health Services Act, the Commission is designed to empower stakeholders, with members representing not only consumers and their families, and employers, but also service providers, law enforcement, government officials, and educators.

Interview Opportunities by Request

Commissioner Cortese

About the Commission

In enacting Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, California voters in 2014 created and charged the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission with the responsibility of driving transformational change in public and private mental health systems to achieve the vision that everyone who needs mental health care has access to and receives effective and culturally competent care. The Commission was designed to empower stakeholders, with members representing consumers and their families, service providers, law enforcement, educators, and employers. The Commission puts consumers and families at the center of decision-making. The Commission promotes community collaboration, cultural competency and integrated service delivery. The Commission is committed to wellness and recovery, using its authorities, resources, and passion to reduce the negative outcomes of mental illness and promote the mental health and wellbeing of all Californians.

About Senator Dave Cortese

Senator Dave Cortese represents State Senate District 15 which encompasses most of Santa Clara County, including the cities of Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, and much of San Jose, stretching from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and Mountain Hamilton Range to the east.