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Mental Health Board taps another interim leader, restarts search

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 5:10 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 12:16 a.m. CDT

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CRYSTAL LAKE – The McHenry County Mental Health Board has picked a former County Board member to temporarily head the agency while a search for a permanent leader starts anew.

The Mental Health Board announced Tuesday that it has selected Lyn Orphal as interim executive director, effective Jan. 2, until it can hire a permanent replacement. Board members unanimously approved her appointment Monday evening, but did not name Orphal until she received notification and could give appropriate notice.

The board is giving Orphal a six-month contract with a 30-day opt out while it begins its third search for a leader after a tumultuous year of managerial upheaval and budget cuts.

County Board member Paula Yensen, who holds the county's voting seat on the nine-member Mental Health Board, said that search will begin with the new year.

Orphal, of Crystal Lake, will replace Information Systems Director Duane Lahti, who was given the interim reins in November after previous interim executive director Todd Schroll resigned. The board has not had a full-time executive director since Sandy Lewis resigned in November 2012 to take a teaching and management job at Virginia Commonwealth University. Lahti will return to his regular duties.

"Duane has done a yeoman's job, but he was wearing three hats, and he needs some relief as far as both responsibilities," Yensen said.

The Mental Health Board is tasked with helping the county's mentally ill and developmentally disabled, mainly through a property tax levy it disburses to qualifying social service agencies.

The board over the past year has experienced almost complete turnover. New members are grappling with shrinking revenues that have forced cuts long sought by critics who have alleged that past members allowed the agency to become a top-heavy bureaucracy that spent too much on administration, overhead and a large headquarters it did not need.

Past critics of the Mental Health Board have since stated they are happy with the direction the new board members are taking the agency.

The two previous searches for a full-time director came frustratingly close for the Mental Health Board.

The first search ended in April when one of two finalists backed out, forcing a do-over. Board members in November interviewed three finalists and began negotiations with the top candidate, but that, too, fell through.

Orphal could not be reached for comment Tuesday. She served on the County Board from 2000 until 2010, and from 2007 to 2010 was executive director of Leadership Greater McHenry County. Orphal was development manager from 2011 through 2012 for Family Alliance, a Woodstock-based adult care agency that receives Mental Health Board funding.

Her online resume lists her career since August as a self-employed consultant, although she applied in

October for the paid seat to represent McHenry County on the Regional Transportation Authority Board.

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