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Craig Stenning Confirmed as Director of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals

Governor Donald L. Carcieri today congratulated Craig Stenning for his unanimous confirmation by the Rhode Island State Senate as Director of the Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals (MHRH). Stenning has been serving as Acting Director of MHRH since June of 2008.

“Craig has served the public with great distinction throughout his entire career,” said Governor Donald L. Carcieri. “As the founder of the CODAC Treatment Centers, Craig changed the way we care for and treat individuals with substance abuse and mental health issues. His commitment and passion to improving the lives of others is inspiring, and I am confident he will continue to serve with excellence as we move ahead with reform throughout MHRH.”

MHRH oversees a public and private network of programs involving mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities, as well as operating the Eleanor Slater Hospital. Stenning began his State career in January, 2000 as the first Executive Director of Behavioral Healthcare Services.

Prior to joining state government, Stenning began his professional career in 1969 as Director of the Cranston Law Enforcement Planning Agency. In 1971, he started CODAC Treatment Centers and served as its CEO for 28 years as it became the state’s largest outpatient program. His work in substance abuse treatment and prevention has earned him numerous state and national awards including the prestigious Nyswander/Dole Award for outstanding contributions in substance abuse treatment at the national level.

His appointment as the first Executive Director of Behavioral Healthcare carried with it the assignment to merge the two divisions of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. In 2004, Stenning was also appointed to be Acting Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities along with his duties in Behavioral Healthcare. Stenning also spent five months working at the Department of Human Services on the Global Waiver before being appointed by Governor Carcieri as Acting MHRH Director.

Stenning served as Chairman of the Cranston School Committee from 1978-82 and a member of the Cranston City Council from 1982-1992. He was inducted into the Cranston Hall of Fame in 2000.

Stenning earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the University of Rhode Island (URI) in 1971. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from URI in 1969. He has done post graduate work at the University of Miami, Yale University and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Related links

  • Department or agency: RI Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals
  • Online:
  • Release date: 03-11-2009

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