Behavioral Health chief picked to run Georgia’s Medicaid agency

Frank Berry, head of the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, will replace Clyde Reese as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health.

Gov. Deal
Gov. Deal

Gov. Nathan Deal, who made the Berry announcement Wednesday, also nominated Judy Fitzgerald, DBHDD’s current chief of staff, as its new commissioner. Pending approval by the board, Fitzgerald will take over the role Dec. 1.

The appointments followed the departure of Reese to become a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Berry has been DBHDD commissioner for four years. He has overseen the state’s compliance with a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on improving Georgia’s public system for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. Berry previously served as CEO of View Point Health, one of Georgia’s largest community service boards.

“It is a tremendous honor to be asked by Governor Nathan Deal to serve as commissioner of the Department of Community Health,” Berry said in a statement. “This is a unique opportunity to serve the people of Georgia in a new role that impacts the quality of health care programs throughout the state.  I look forward to strengthening partnerships that will reflect our vision for a healthy Georgia.

“I am extremely proud of the work the DBHDD team has accomplished over the last four years, and I am confident that the department will thrive under Judy Fitzgerald’s leadership,” Berry added.

Community Health has a much bigger budget than DBHDD, with oversight of more than $13 billion in government funds, most of which coming in the Medicaid program.

Fitzgerald served as the chief of staff at DBHDD after working as the agency’s  deputy commissioner of programs. Fitzgerald was previously the vice president of strategy for View Point Health and the executive director for the Mental Health Association of Georgia.

“I am honored to have been nominated by Governor Nathan Deal to serve as commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Under the leadership of Commissioner Frank Berry over the last four years, DBHDD has transformed into a high-performing agency of state government.  Our team is dedicated to advancing quality and accountability in Georgia’s behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disability safety net.  We remain focused on strengthening our network to meet the demands of a dynamic health care environment.”


Berry earned a master’s degree from Florida State University. He and his wife have two daughters and reside in Covington.

Fitzgerald earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Georgia. She and her husband have two children and live in Smyrna.