Karen Beyer, CEO to Retire from Ecker Center for Mental Health
Karen Beyer, CEO of Ecker Center for Mental Health, announced her retirement will occur June 30 after nearly two decades of leadership at the not-for-profit mental health agency. No replacement has been named.
Karen’s 53-year career as a human services champion begin in 1966 as a child welfare caseworker. In 1967, she joined Lutheran Social Services of Illinois as a therapist. Beyer earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from Loyola University in 1969 and quickly rose to a leadership role as the Clinical Director for Family Service Association of the Greater Elgin Area. Karen became the Director of Health and Human Services for the Village of Hoffman Estates in 1983 and earned her second Master’s degree from Roosevelt University in Public Administration in 1992. In 1993, she was hired as the Executive Director of The Larkin Center where she increased fundraising and developed new programs.
In her former private counseling practice that specialized in marital counseling, Karen observed that couples who had decided to divorce amicably, often returned to her practice as single individuals embroiled in disputes with their ex-spouses. As a result Karen sought a new way of preparing individuals for life after divorce. She became one of the first individuals in Illinois trained in divorce mediation and practiced divorce mediation with an attorney partner for several years.
Karen was the therapist who successfully defended her client’s right to privacy in the historic US Supreme Court case Jaffee v Redmond and the Village of Hoffman Estates. As a result of her work with the extremely traumatized police officer that resulted in the Supreme Court case, Karen became an advocate for employee assistance programs to offer counseling services for police officers experiencing tragic events in the line of duty.
Beyer joined the Ecker Center in 2000 as the Executive Director, and earned her third Master’s degree in Business Administration. Ecker Center’s Assistant Clinical Director, Victoria Gesinger said, “Karen never gives up! She has led us through so many difficult financial crises with immense state budget cuts and the more recent crisis where there was no budget at all! Our hearts would bleed watching other community agencies experience significant layoffs, turning away clients and at times shutting their doors completely. We have been so fortunate to have a leader such as Karen to see us through these difficult situations with little impact to client care and employees.”
In honor of Karen Beyer’s 53 years of dedicated tireless human services work in the community, Ecker Center has created the ‘Karen Beyer Circle’ fund to acknowledge her distinguished career, the impact her work has had on our community and to ensure that the center will continue to provide services in the face of increasing financial challenges. The Karen Beyer Circle is a group of friends, family and coworkers united in their dedication to a common purpose: which is to insure persons with mental illness have access to needed services. All donations received by Friday June 28th, 2019 will be presented to her.