by Jessica Carreras
Dr. Dennis R. Jacobs is the founder, president and chief executive officer of NewPASSAGES Behavioral Health and Rehabilitation Services, which provides health services to several Michigan counties, including Saginaw, Sanilac, Ingham, Genesee, Macomb, Oakland. He’s also an out gay man and the father of two adopted sons. In addition to all that, Jacobs is also the newest board member of Michigan Equality, and hopes to bring his workplace and life experiences with other LGBT people to the table, helping the organization to reach new heights.
1) You’re president and CEO of NewPASSAGES. Why is this organization so important to the community, including LGBT people?
As CEO of a large organization, I am in a unique position to set policy. Early on I was determined to make sure that the LGBT employees who worked for NewPASSAGES were protected in the non-discrimination policies – and this was 22 years ago.
2) As a parent of two adopted sons, what issues are most important to you?
Obviously, second-parent adoptions is very important. Also, equally significant is the ability to marry the person you love and receive the protections afforded to other families.
3) Why did you decide to join the board of Michigan Equality?
I feel strongly that Michigan Equality’s mission is one I can support and lend my personal and professional experience to advance the mission. I became interested in Michigan Equality because I was very attracted to its mission. I have been a supporter of the LGBT community for many years, and with the graduation of my son from high school felt that I now had more time to devote to LGBT issues. After meeting with Michigan Equality Co-Chair Michelle Brown, I was convinced that becoming a board member would be the best use of my time and talent.
4) What are you hoping you can contribute to the community?
As a clinical psychologist, parent and leader of a community-based organization, I would like to maximize my experience as a community leader to advance the cause of equality for all individuals, including the LGBT community.
5) How will your work with NewPASSAGES help you in reaching your goals within the LGBT community?
NewPASSAGES served over 7,000 clients last year, some of whom are part of the LGBT community. It is my goal to make sure that all clients of NewPASSAGES are treated equally, and with the utmost respect and dignity.New PASSAGES primarily provides services to people with serious mental illness. I think our biggest contribution to the LGBT community is that if a person does have a serious mental illness and is being treated by NewPASSAGES, they are treated with dignity and respect.