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Northcountry community overlooking the lake in the fallNorthcountry community overlooking the lake in the fall

At Citizen Advocates, we are committed to making lives better. The individuals, families and communities we serve receive a full range of health and lifestyle care through innovative, industry-leading services and programs. All of this is achieved through a person-centered approach that supports and celebrates each individual’s choices.

We are here to make a positive difference in the life of any individual needing help along the unique road to health, independence and fulfillment. The work we do is driven by respect for humanity and the rights of individuals as they explore what it means to define their own future. We are proud to provide quality, compassionate care and do so from the bottom of our hearts.

Our work may be difficult at times, but that’s what makes it meaningful. We will persevere with courage and optimism. We are Citizen Advocates.

Our mission & values

Mission: Making Lives Better

Our vision is to be the recognized leader of exceptional services and employer of choice. We do this by providing high-quality, person-centered care, through sound financial management, best-in-class customer service and fostering workplace culture that matters.

Our services

At Citizen Advocates, we are committed to making lives better throughout Northern New York. We offer mental health, addiction recovery and intellectual and developmental disability services and programs, along with a host of related support services, in Franklin, St. Lawrence, Clinton, Essex, Jefferson, Hamilton and Lewis counties.

Our history

Originally founded in 1975, Citizen Advocates served as a work program for individuals with a need for developmental and behavioral health support. At the time, the organization had 12 employees serving 50 individuals. Today, Citizen Advocates employs 750 health professionals and support staff who provide a broad range of services with compassion and skill to 8,100 individuals and families on an annual basis. With administrative offices in Malone, Citizen Advocates provides developmental disability, mental health and substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery services throughout Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Hamilton and St. Lawrence counties.

Impact reports

2022 report

Citizen Advocates achieved significant growth in 2022, from the opening of a new clinic in Ogdensburg to the groundbreaking for two new locations in Watertown and Malone. The Harison Place Project took a major leap forward with the final piece of funding falling into place—putting in motion the demolition and construction of the long-awaited housing initiative. 

The scope of our growth is truly amazing, and it would not be possible without the support of a generous and caring workforce.

Follow the link below to hear directly from our amazing employees, and how their inspirational stories advance our mission of Making Lives Better throughout northern New York.

2021 report

Despite the prevailing uncertainty created by the pandemic, there is a new reality emerging. It is one that is revealing what we are capable of, not just as individuals, but as a community. It shouldn’t come as a surprise—our resiliency is what sets us apart in Northern New York. We band together, apply our ingenuity and overcome challenges.

Where the pandemic has created problems, Citizen Advocates is laser focused on applying solutions. This was the inspiration for our 2021 Annual Impact Report. Follow the link below to hear directly from our amazing workforce and the people we support. You’ll receive first-hand accounts of how our mission of Making Lives Better means we are here for one another as much as we are for those we support and the community. Thank you, and we hope you enjoy our story—please feel free to share with family and friends.

2020 report

Every year, we publish an impact report highlighting the achievements, events and news from the prior year. 2020 was no exception. What was an exception, however, was the extraordinary circumstances we faced from the pandemic. Yet, we, as an organization, remained undaunted, embracing our role of providing critical services and supports that our communities so dearly needed. Read our 2020 Impact Report to learn more of how our concerted efforts helped Make Lives Better.

Community Health Needs Assessment

Citizen Advocates aims to make a positive difference in the life of any individual needing help along their unique road to health, independence and fulfillment. The whole-health organization positions itself on the leading edge of transformative health and well-being initiatives by focusing on enhanced health outcomes driven by high-quality, coordinated care for individuals and families receiving developmental disability, mental health and addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services. The work is driven by respect for humanity and the rights of individuals as they explore what it means to define their own future. To provide these essential services, Citizen Advocates must remain diligent in assessing the needs of the community continuously. The following report summarizes findings resulting from a Community Health Needs Assessment targeted to identify behavioral health needs for the residents we serve in Franklin, Essex, St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Clinton counties, the unique region we call the “North Country,” in rural Northern New York.

Community Health Improvement Plan

A Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is a long-term effort to address public health based on the findings of the Community Health Assessment. Community Health Improvement Plans are strategies that set priorities and measurable objectives to address the needs of the community through a work plan.

The following work plan are the health priorities Citizen Advocates identified in its Community Health Needs Assessment, and the related actions the agency is taking to tackle each health-related focus.

Leadership team

James Button, MSW

James Button, President & Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Button is the President and CEO of Citizen Advocates and St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers. He has been in his role since 2020. Prior to becoming CEO, Mr. Button held many positions in the agency including counselor, program manager, compliance officer and COO. He also spent time in Albany working closely with New York State government on behavioral health public policy initiatives. Mr. Button has two master’s degrees. His first is in Education; his second is in Social Work. He also holds a healthcare administrators’ certificate from UVM.

Mr. Button is an accomplished public speaker who is focused on improving access and elevating convenience to life-saving addiction and mental health treatments in Northern New York. He is a strong advocate for integrated care, healthcare reimbursement reform, harm-reduction models and sound business management principles. He and his wife, Camelia, reside in Malone with their two sons, Ben and Jacob, and a German Shepherd named Cali. James spends his free time downhill skiing, cooking, attending his son’s activities and listening to music.

Kati Jock

Kati Jock, VP of Operations & Finance/Chief Operations Officer
As the Vice President of Operations & Finance/Chief Operations Officer, Kati is responsible for overseeing all financial matters and leading Citizen Advocates’ efforts to strategically align services under three main areas: Behavioral Health, Community Living and Community Supports. This leading-edge, whole health strategy strengthens Citizen Advocates’ position as a leading provider of exceptional, high-quality clinical services, programs and community supports. In addition to her current role, Kati has served as Director of Behavioral Health Services and Director of Population Health and Planning for Citizen Advocates.

Kati has over a decade of experience in Strategic and Business Planning for Hospital Health Systems where she played a key role in affiliations and mergers, designed business plans supporting primary care expansion, and collaborated with system executives to shape organizational vision to drive profitability and sustain growth. With a passion for strategy and analytics, Kati believes strongly in utilizing a data driven approach to transform information into a meaningful resource and tool for the enhancement of health outcomes. Outside of work, Kati volunteers her time as a member of the Board of Directors for United Way of Northern New York.

Krista Bartlett

Krista Bartlett, Chief Human Resources Officer

Prior to joining Citizen Advocates in 2021, Krista was a Senior Director of Human Resources Operations & Organizational Development for the Mohawk Valley Health System based in Utica.   There she was responsible for the implementation and oversight of a rewards and recognition program, professional development, orientation, HR operations and workforce culture for over 4,000 employees.    Prior to that, she held leadership positions in Compliance, Talent Development and Recruitment for Upstate Cerebral Palsy in Utica.

As Chief Human Resources Officer, Krista will support the enhancement of the department by partnering with employees to build positive, effective solutions that meet their needs.  She is also very tuned into national trends and the seismic shifts taking place in the labor market and using this knowledge to focus on solutions that promote workforce resilience.   To achieve this, her priorities include improving the overall experience for employees, and creating an environment for them to develop their capabilities and offer upward mobility within the organization.

Jennifer Dishaw

Jennifer Dishaw, Chief of Staff
As Chief of Staff, Jennifer is directly responsible for managing the day-to-day priorities for the Executive Leadership Team.  In addition to her duties related to the Executive Team, Jennifer has management oversight of Information Technology, Electronic Health Record and Revenue Cycle Management.  Prior to becoming Chief of Staff in 2019, Jennifer led a major initiative to modernize Citizen Advocates’ Electronic Medical Record system, known as NetSmart.  Jennifer is familiar with the billing aspects of healthcare delivery, having managed the Billing Department for 11 years.

Daxia Board of Directors

Nick Eells, Chair
Felix Tam, Secretary
Paul Goodrow, Treasurer
Marc Gitlitz

Citizen Advocates Board of Directors

Nick Eells, Chair
Loretta Fowler, Secretary
Dallas Sutton, Treasurer
Brock Arnold
Nance Arquiett
Marc Gitlitz
Paul Goodrow
Rebecca Preve
Felix Tam

Harison Place Board of Directors

Paul Goodrow, Chair
Lori Tourville, Secretary
Brian Stewart, Treasurer
Greg Langdon