College for Public Health & Social Justice 2014 Alumni Merit Honoree
James Siemianowski MSW'82
Saint Louis University's College for Public Health & Social Justice is pleased to announce the 2014 alumni merit award honoree James Siemianowski, M.S.W. Siemianowski will be honored during SLU's Homecoming on September 26-28.
James Siemianowski received his Master of Social Work from Saint Louis University in 1982 specializing in Community Mental Health. Since graduation Siemianowski has worked in a variety of roles arranging from providing direct service, to director positions, to his current role as the director of evaluation, quality management and improvement and public information officer at the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) for the state of Connecticut.
Siemianowski has worked for DMHAS for the last 15 years. While at DMHAS he has served in several roles including policy analyst, regional manager, division director as well as his current role at the organization. While working at the DMHAS, he has helped to develop and organize a network of mental health providers to respond to disasters across the state of Connecticut. DHMAS has collaborated with the Department of Children and Families, Yale and The University of Connecticut to establish a Disaster Behavioral Health Response Network. This network consists of five regional teams that respond to disasters and other critical incidents when local mental health agencies need additional response support.
In addition to Siemianowski's other responsibilities, he serves as the lead for the Connecticut's response to disasters with a behavioral health component. In this role he recruits, trains, and coordinates mental health clinicians for the DBHRN team to ensure that there are trained professionals in every region that can respond to natural or manmade disasters. He does this by conducting disaster training and drills for any variety of critical situations. Two major responses that these teams have been involved in were the 2012 Superstorm Sandy as well as the tragic event that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
As soon as Siemianowski was informed of what had occurred in Newtown he immediately initiated and led a behavioral health and response and support team to the area. He was one of the first non-first responders on the scene to offer assistance. Siemianowski drove to Newtown each day to meet with teachers, students, families, community leaders and residents. He also provided support to the other mental health providers as they worked with members of the community who were impacted by the tragedy. Even in this time of tragedy, he was not able to put his other work commitments on hold and continued to act as the Chief Information Officer fielding numerous questions from both the press and the public. As time went on he started to network with national experts in the field of trauma and helped to establish long term support for Newtown. In September 2013, Siemianowski was recognized by the State of Connecticut with a Distinguished Managerial Service Award in response to his work in Newtown.
In addition to his career he is also an avid volunteer. He has been a member of several community organizations including the Advisory Board for Disaster Research Projects and the Haven Oversight Committee for Impaired Professionals. His love of basketball has found him volunteering at a local middle school to help coach the basketball team.
Siemianowski has been married to fellow SLU alumna Paula (Kemp) Siemianowski for more than 30 years. They have three daughters.