This is a photo of Clay Goddard, the new president of Burrell Behavioral Health's Southwest Region
Clay Goddard has been named president of Burrell Behavioral Health's Southwest Region.

The man who led the Springfield-Greene County Health Department through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic has been named president of Burrell Behavioral Health’s Southwest Region. 

Burrell Behavioral Health and its parent company, Brightli, Inc., announced the hiring of Clay Goddard as president in a news release this week.

Elizabeth Avery, previously Burrell’s executive vice president of community services, has been named to the new position of chief operating officer of Burrell’s Southwest Region.

As president, Goddard will lead the strategic and operational functions of the Southwest Region of Brightli. 

Goddard has 26 years of experience

This area includes Burrell’s long-standing Southwest Region of Christian, Dallas, Greene, Polk, Stone, Taney and Webster counties, where it serves as the state-designated Community Mental Health Center, as well as certain mental health and substance-use recovery services under the Preferred Family Healthcare umbrella in southern Missouri and northeast Oklahoma.

“I have spent my 26-year career in public health as a passionate advocate for health equity, evidence-based public health practice and public health innovation,” Goddard said in the release. “I am grateful for the opportunity to step into this new role as President.

“I am conscious of the diverse health care issues in our area, including the urban and rural divide,” he continued. “I am comfortable in both settings, viewing myself as a bridge-builder between the two. This role allows us the unique opportunity to more deeply integrate into the areas we serve.”

Goddard served at the Springfield-Greene County Health Department in a variety of roles, leading the department from 2017 to 2021.  

Goddard most recently served as the senior director of public health transformation for Missouri Foundation for Health. 

According to the release, Goddard’s education includes a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Missouri State University. He is a graduate of the Missouri Public Health Leadership Institute and Leadership Springfield. Goddard is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard.

Avery has been with Burrell for four years

This is a photo of Elizabeth Avery, the COO of Burrell Behavioral Health's Southwest Region
Elizabeth Avery was named COO of Burrell Behavioral Health’s Southwest Region

“We are incredibly excited to hire Clay as president in our Southwest Region, and especially grateful that this leader is a long-standing Burrell board member; one who understands the unique needs of the communities and counties he will serve,” Burrell president and CEO C.J. Davis, who is also CEO of Brightli, said in the release. “Clay’s record of leadership and advocacy for mental health is incomparable. His experience will be invaluable as we continue to invest in the people and communities of our Southwest Region.”

Goddard’s first day in his new position will be Monday, Sept. 19.

Elizabeth Avery, who joined Burrell in 2018 as vice president of school-based services, will oversee day-to-day operations for Brightli’s Southwest Region which, with more than 1,600 employees between Burrell and PFH, represents the largest of Brightli’s five geographic regions.

“In her four-plus years at Burrell, Elizabeth has established Burrell’s school-based team as the gold standard in our state for integrated, in-school behavioral health services,” Davis said. “Her clinical expertise, leadership and commitment to quality care make her the perfect choice to lead operations in our largest region.”

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She covers housing, homelessness, domestic violence and early childhood, among other public affairs issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald