TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—Tompkins County announced its newest hire Wednesday, welcoming Harmony Ayers-Friedlander as she joins the county as Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health.

Ayers-Friedlander will also serve as the Director of Community Services. She was officially hired in March. According to the county’s announcement, she has “dedicated almost three decades in educational, community-based and residential settings providing clinical services to children, youth and families.”

Since the mental health department and the public health department have been merged, Tompkins County Public Health Director (and Mental Health Commissioner) Frank Kruppa will be Ayers-Friedlander’s direct superior.

“We are excited to have Harmony join us at Mental Health,” he said in the statement. “She brings excellent experience to our county. Harmoney is thoughtful and patient, but also has a strong understanding of state regulations to navigate the requirements for our department.”

Kruppa also credited Ayers-Friedlander with setting up the department’s priority schedule for mental health issues this year. He emphasized that her role will be crucial during the COVID-19 recovery, as mental health has already been shown to be one of the most significantly impacted aspects of people’s lives over the last 12-16 months.

“I have learned so much during the past few months and, as a long-time resident of Tompkins County, I know all the amazing resources and dedicated programs we have for addressing the ongoing mental health crises,” Ayers-Friedlander said. “I look forward to working with our partners, community members, and clients to have conversations, seek feedback.”

Ayers-Friedlander has a degree in Counseling from Liberty University and is a licensed counselor in the state. She also has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University. She most recently worked as the executive director of the Family Service Society in Stueben County. 

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com