Press Release

Elizabeth R. Brands, Ed.D. Named President & CEO of The Morris Foundation

The Fort Worth-based Foundation Remains Committed to Supporting Education, HealthCare and Social Service Organizations and Initiatives 

 Fort Worth, Texas — The Morris Foundation has announced Elizabeth R. Brands, Ed.D., as President & CEO. Mrs. Brands, a former teacher, also led a state-wide Reading Partners program in Oklahoma before moving to Fort Worth and becoming Head of Education Giving at The Morris Foundation in 2016.

“Elizabeth is a leader who listens, evaluates, and then acts”, said Laura Anne Liles and Michelle Piotrowski, Trustees for the Foundation. “She exemplifies the empathy and respect Linda and Jack Morris had for the lives we serve while also being an exceptionally thoughtful leader with the professional experience and education to bring big ideas forward in the community and then see them through to the benefit of children and their families.”

In addition to her career at The Morris Foundation, Mrs. Brands, who earned Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Education, has been instrumental in helping found and lead Read Fort Worth.

“I have been proud to serve The Morris Foundation and this community for many years, and I am honored to carry forth the legacy and vision that Jack and Linda Morris had when they established their Foundation. Their story is one of resilience, perseverance, hard-work, and determination, and I stand ready to lead the Foundation by listening, learning and committing to the ideal that prosperity is achievable for all”, said Mrs. Brands. 

For Immediate Release
Sept. 22, 2020

FORT WORTH P.D. PARTNERS WITH MHMR AND THE MORRIS FOUNDATION TO SUPPORT OFFICERS CONFRONTING MENTAL HEALTH SITUATIONS

FORT WORTH, Texas – The Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD), with funding from The Morris Foundation and support by My Health My Resources (MHMR), will assure that every officer is trained in reducing use-of-force in situations that involve those with mental health issues through de-escalation techniques that mitigate violence, thus increasing the safety of officers and the public.

Fort Worth City Council officially accepted the Foundation’s grant Tuesday (Sept. 22, 2020) that makes this training and certification a top priority. This is a unique approach in that, for the most part, enforcement depends on a special crisis intervention unit or squad. The department has 1,659 sworn positions currently staffed—all of whom will be certified after the 18-month timeframe for comprehensive education and training.

Teaching the 40-hour program will be a certified Mental Health Officer and a licensed MHMR social worker trained specifically in crisis intervention. This inclusive approach is unique in that, for the most part, special units or squads are equipped with the knowledge, procedures and tools to respond to what can be life-threatening events.

“With so much discussion, both nationally and locally, about the need to respond better to people experiencing mental crisis, this donation from The Morris Foundation enables the FWPD to train all of our officers to resolve these calls more effectively,” said Chief Ed Kraus. “I have no doubt this will result in better outcomes as our officers serve these individuals in need.”

Leading the Crisis Intervention Team training and certification process through the State of Texas for the Department is Lt. Amy Ladd.

“The underlying elements behind mental illness-related behaviors are usually not criminal or malicious,” Ladd said. “Utilizing the information from this course and implementing effective strategies can help keep officers and the public safe.”

“Often family members call police in an attempt to assist a relative who is exhibiting problematic or troubling behavior due to mental illness. In some cases, when the police arrive, the subject is holding an implement that may be perceived as potentially harmful which can result in a deadly force encounter,” Ladd continued.

“Increasing public trust and confidence in law enforcement among people suffering from mental illness, their families and the community at-large is our goal,” Ladd said.

Fort Worth’s highest call volume for mental health situations occurs in the South, East and North communities. Making fewer arrests and assuring people get evaluated will help improve long-term community health and provide officers with options outside of enforcement, Department leadership agrees.

One of The Morris Foundation’s key areas of support is improving mental health in the greater Fort Worth community. “Providing an approach that significantly improves the thousands of acute mental health situations law enforcement manages each year is one way we can help bring positive change in mental health. Training of the whole force will have the greatest possible impact, reducing escalated incidents and creating jail diversion opportunities for our most vulnerable populations,” said Todd Liles, Foundation Executive Director and Trustee.

Liles added, “This big step is being made possible because of innovative leaders within the City of Fort Worth, especially Chief Kraus, Lieutenant Ladd and the FWPD. The Morris Foundation is honored to be part of this public-private endeavor.”

The Morris Foundation Contact: Linda Pavlik
Phone: 817-832-0420
Email: pavlik@pavlikandassociates.com

Fort Worth Police Department
Contact: Mark Barthen
Phone: 817-392-4211
Email: mark.barthen@fortworthtexas.gov