Maureen Bauman, MSW '81 (Social Work), MPA '86 (Public Administration)

2014 Distinguished Service Award Recipient 

Maureen Bauman
Maureen Bauman would likely champion her cause and make a major difference for Californians even without her prominent title.

She happens to be the director of the Placer County Adult System of Care, overseeing mental health services and drug and alcohol services for one of the fastest growing areas in the state.

Mental health professionals are making strides in a challenging field and Bauman is using her experience, education and persistence to advance the cause. She is a recipient of the Sac State Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award for 2014.

 “One of the things with drugs and alcohol, and especially mental health, is the huge amount of stigma associated with these diseases,” Bauman says. “People are afraid to say they have a mental illness. Sometimes we act like it’s this small sliver of people, but 25 percent of us have mental illness and may need treatment or intervention. Through the Mental Health Services Act we’re trying to de-stigmatize it and help people understand it.”

Bauman obtained her bachelor’s degree in social work at San Jose State, but she wasn’t set on a career path. Before attending Sac State, she gained experience working in a women’s home and as a Vista volunteer, which helped steer her plans.

“I’ve always leaned toward administration, but I also always believed you need to start at the bottom and work your way up,” Bauman says.

Sac State’s dual degree program allowed her to obtain master’s degrees in both social work and public administration at the same time.

“It was a two-for-one deal and I’m a bit of a sucker for deals,” Bauman jokes.

She says the relationships with professors and her cohorts made a significant impact. The business-related administration courses she took left a lasting impression and she applied the lessons immediately in her position at Sierra Family Services, where she eventually became chief executive officer.

Bauman maintains close ties to Sac State. Her office employs interns from the University’s social work programs and she has worked with faculty and administration to utilize funding from the Mental Health Services Act to improve the curriculum.

California voters passed the Act in 2004. In addition to the educational components, it provides funding for counties to expand services and treatment for those dealing with mental illness.

Bauman and her colleagues are striving to find the most effective uses for the funding. In April she will begin a term as president of the Mental Health Services Authority, a board with representatives from each county that works together to implement the Act.

Bauman also serves on a steering committee for Assembly Bill 109—the public safety realignment bill—and is co-chair of the Placer Collaborative Network, a volunteer group of community leaders dedicated to improving the quality of life in Placer County.

When she’s not engrossed in her job and extracurricular activities, Bauman enjoys spending time on her property in Penryn and traveling. She also volunteers with her church and attends local meetings of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

 “I have a brother that has schizophrenia so I have sympathy for those families,” Bauman says. “Many times it’s the family members of the adults who are mentally ill that provide a huge amount of support and are keeping them safe in their communities.”