Center for Public and Nonprofit Management

Beth Zietlow-DeJesus

Beth Zietlow DeJesus​​​​​​​

Name: Beth Zietlow-DeJesus
​​​​​​​Title/Organization: Director of External Affairs, Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am the Director of External Affairs for the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County. The ADAMHS Board is responsible for planning, funding, and overseeing public mental health and substance use disorder treatment and recovery supports for the residents of Cuyahoga County.

As director of external affairs, I am responsible for public relations, media relations, social media, and community engagement. I also participate in or coordinate various community collaboratives such as the Suicide Prevention Coalition, Cuyahoga County Opiate Task Force, Department of Justice Heroin and Opioid Task Force, Addiction Recovery Advocacy Meetings, and the Eliminating Structural Racism in Behavioral Health Care Work Group. Overall, my job is to increase awareness about suicide prevention, and treatment for mental illness and substance use disorders, as well as help promote recovery and prevention.

How has your career evolved?
I began my career in retail management, working at restaurants and a financial establishment. I did not start my public service career until my late 20s, where I got a job as a communications assistant in the office of Mayor Frank G. Jackson, City of Cleveland. By the time I left the mayor’s office nine years later, I was the Communications Director. In 2017, I decided to pair my skills with my passion – advocacy for mental health and addiction recovery – and began my role as an external affairs officer with the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County. Within a year, I was promoted to director of external affairs, the position in which I serve today.

What’s the biggest challenge you faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
I have done a lot of crisis communications work, which is often very challenging. In a crisis, it is important to make quick, well-informed decisions. Handling communications related to mental health and substance use has been a real challenge during the pandemic. People who have never struggled with mental wellness are now struggling, and the people living with mental illness and substance use disorders have even more of a strain on their recovery. This is a challenge I’ve yet to overcome, but I hope to help as many people as possible through my work.

Tell us a little more about your mentors.
I had a mentor through the City of Cleveland’s mentorship program. He was a part of the Mayor’s Executive team and taught me many things about leadership. He told me to make sure to take time and listen to understand. His mentorship was valuable, and I still use the tools he taught me today.

How long have you been in the mentoring program? Who is your current mentee?
This is my first year as a mentor. My mentee is Rachelle Evans.

What has been your favorite mentoring moment so far?
Rachelle and I have wonderful conversations and love to bounce ideas off each other. I look forward to our Zoom meetings. My favorite moment was when she laughed with me about needing to reschedule one of our meetings and waited a full week and a half for my response. She allowed me grace in my schedule, which I appreciated!

What is one thing you wish someone would have told you prior to beginning your career? What piece of advice do you have for students beginning their careers?
I wish someone would have told me to be flexible. There is always more than one “right” way to get a project completed. And to remember there is value in all the work you do. Each new thing will bring you a chance to develop your skills. Not all assignments will be your favorite, but they will all teach you something if you are open to learn.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
Don’t give up! It isn’t easy to figure out exactly what you want to do. You may have an idea in your head about how a career will be but once you are doing it, it may not be what you expected. It is ok to change up your goals and your direction. Just keep an open mind and look for new ways to grow professionally and personally.