This page is optimized for a taller screen. Please rotate your device or increase the size of your browser window.

Project LIFT (Leadership Initiatives for Tomorrow)


  • Project LIFT will reduce the shortage of mental health leaders.
  • The program will develop knowledge, skills, and technical resources.
  • Two cohorts completed training and were overwhelmingly positive about it.
The Challenge

Obamacare expanded healthcare benefits for 20 million people with mental and substance use conditions. But the behavioral health workforce didn’t have the leadership in place to cope with this onslaught of patients.

The Approach

Project Leadership Initiatives for Tomorrow (LIFT) addressed this issue through the Behavioral Health Leadership Development Program (BHLDP), which Abt designed and implemented for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The BHLDP had two elements:

  1. Knowledge and skills development to expand the cadre of behavioral health leaders who can address the needs of underserved communities
  2. Development of technical resources to support outreach, education, and engagement of behavioral health workers and enhance allied professionals’ understanding of behavioral health needs.
The Results

The first cohort of leaders completed the BHLDP and returned to their communities to apply their knowledge. A second cohort completed immersion training in 2015 and is engaged in further capacity building. In option year 2, 95 percent of participants were satisfied with the five leadership modules presented by Cheryl Gray Hines.

Abt also developed and deployed the application for Project LIFT’s Consent2Share, an open-source tool to integrate health data through electronic health records and Health Information Exchange systems while ensuring privacy protections.