Dr. Michelle Laws is the Assistant Director for Consumer Policy and Community Engagement at the NC Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services (MH/DD/SAS). Prior to returning to work for the NC Division of MH/DD/SAS, Dr. Laws served as the Director of Policy and Public Advocacy for the NC National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-NC).
Dr. Laws’ distinguished professional career also includes serving as the Assistant Director of the Community Health Coalition, Inc, a nonprofit organization working to eliminate health disparities and improve health outcomes for poor and medically marginalized communities in North Carolina; serving as the former Executive Director of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP; serving as an adjunct professor, teaching undergraduate courses in sociology, research methods, and statistics for North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, and college-transfer courses in federal and state prisons.
Dr. Laws also served as the legislative liaison for NC DHHS’s Division of MH/DD/SAS (where currently serves), during a time when the state was undergoing major reform (in early 2000) of its public MH/DD/SAS system including the dismantling and restructuring of area MH/DD/SAS authorities. Dr. Laws has been widely recognized both nationally and internationally as a dynamic speaker and passionate advocate for underserved populations, including impoverished women and children, the homeless, justice involved youth and youth aging out of foster care, and persons with lived MH and SUD experience.
She has earned the respect from diverse communities of peers, colleagues, and policy makers for being a politically astute and diplomatic leader, operating in various capacities, including policy, public affairs, advocacy, and health and human services program development and evaluation. Dr. Laws is a native of Chapel Hill, NC and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Arts Degree in Sociology from North Carolina Central (Magna Cum Laude graduate), and a Ph.D. in Social and Behavioral Sciences.