Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence

Staff

Douglas A. Smith, M.D., DFAPA

Interim Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation Endowed Chair in Psychiatry

Douglas A. Smith, M.D., DFAPA, is a Northeast Ohio Medical University associate professor of psychiatry and the Medical Director and Chief Clinical Officer for the County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board.

Jeff Futo

Ohio CIT Coordinator Law Enforcement Liaison

Jeff Futo is currently a police officer and the former Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Coordinator for Kent State University Police Services.  Under his guidance, Kent State University Police Services received recognition as the Ohio CIT Program of the year in 2013.  Officer Futo was awarded the 2010 Ohio Campus CIT Officer of the Year and is a Kent State University President’s Excellence Award recipient.  He is the Ohio CIT Coordinator Law Enforcement Liaison for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence, providing technical assistance and guidance to law enforcement agencies and community CIT programs and coordinating the Ohio CIT peer review process.  In his current assignment at Kent State University, Jeff advises and assists with public safety initiatives on all Kent State University campuses.

Christian Ritter, Ph.D.

Research Director

Christian Ritter, Ph.D., is a professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University in the Department of Psychiatry and a member of the Graduate Faculty of the University of Akron-Kent State University Joint Ph.D. Program. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Kentucky and his post-doctoral training was in Psychiatric Epidemiology at the School of Hygiene and Public Health at The Johns Hopkins University, Department of Mental Hygiene. His areas of specialty are mental health, health and health care, and social psychology. His current research involves work stress and family processes and psychological well-being; identity and well-being; community perceptions of mental illness; stigma; and the effects of jail diversion programs for people with mental disorders. Recent publications have appeared in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior; Social Psychology Quarterly; Sociological Perspectives; Journal of Vocational Behavior; Health Psychology; and The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Since 1996, he has served as the American editor of Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of Health and Illness, which is published by Sage Publications. He has also served on the editorial board of The Journal of Health and Social Behavior for three terms and currently serves on the Ohio Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Mental Illness and the Courts.

Ruth H. Simera, M.Ed., LSW

Director

Ruth Simera joined the Department of Psychiatry in September 2011 and serves as the director for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence (CJCCoE). She is currently working with the CJCCoE team and partners to strengthen and sustain Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs in Ohio by providing technical assistance and advanced program development and training opportunities. Ruth also coordinates the Ohio Cross-Systems Mapping Initiative and works with a team of trained facilitators to provide Sequential Intercept Mapping workshops to Ohio counties. This initiative includes the provision of training, consultation, and technical assistance to promote improved cross systems responses to justice-involved persons living with mental illness. Ms. Simera received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Akron and Master’s degree from Kent State University, and is a part-time faculty instructor at the Center for Applied Conflict Management at Kent State University main campus.

Natalie Bonfine, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Natalie Bonfine, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Dr. Bonfine received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Kent State University. Her research interests include mental health across the life course, jail diversion for people with mental illness, and medical sociology.

Haley Farver, M.P.A.

Dissemination Coordinator

Haley Farver has served as the Dissemination Coordinator for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence (CJCCoE) since June of 2016. At the CJCCoE she specializes in strengthening and sustaining Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs in Ohio, and the Ohio Cross-Systems Mapping Initiative by aiding in the application of Sequential Intercept Mapping (SIM) workshops throughout Ohio. Haley handles the distribution of resources and information to community participants, as well as maintains information and trends relating to the intersection of criminal justice and mental health. Her strong dedication to community health and advocacy makes her an excellent resource to stakeholders throughout CIT programs and the SIM process. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, minored in Human Development & Family Studies and holds a Master of Public Administration from Kent State University. She currently sits on the Collaboration Board, where she strategizes and reviews national and statewide progress of CIT and SIM, and is a member of the Ohio Attorney General’s Task Force on Mental Illness and Criminal Justice.

Mekal Banyasz, M.P.A.

Research Coordinator

Mekal Banyasz joined the Department of Psychiatry in June 2019 and serves as the Research Coordinator for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence (CJCCoE). She is currently working with the CJCCoE team and partners to strengthen and sustain Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs in Ohio by collaborating with CIT Coordinators and local law enforcement agencies to develop statewide platforms for CIT data collection. Mekal also directly supports budgets and grants management for the CJCCoE. She is passionate about continuous quality improvement and contributes to evaluation of ongoing projects and post-mapping exercises. Ms. Banyasz received her bachelor’s degree in Society, Ethics & Human Behavior from the University of Washington and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance. She is also active locally and is a commissioner for the Franklin Township Zoning Board.

Contact

Phone: 330.325.6670
Email: cjccoe@neomed.edu

Ohio Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence

Department of Psychiatry