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Missouri Mental Health Director Keith Schafer to retire

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Department of Mental Health Director Keith Schafer is retiring after nearly three decades in the field.

Schafer announced his retirement Wednesday, effective near the end of June. He’s held the position twice: from 1986-1994 and from 2007-2015.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says Schafer’s made a “real, lasting and positive difference for thousands of Missouri families.”

Schafer led the department as it redesigned its inpatient services, and he helped developed the Partnership for Hope program, which provides services to residents with developmental disabilities. He also expanded the state’s crisis intervention and mental health first-aid programs.

A two-month national search for a replacement will begin Friday, with the goal of hiring a new director this summer.