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Breaking Ground 90 - New Staff at TennCare Focus on Community Engagement for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

by TennCare

Dr. Lisa Mills

In September, Dr. Lisa Mills joined the Bureau of TennCare as deputy chief of the Division of Long-Term Supports. Dr. Mills previously served as a consultant, first to the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) and then to TennCare. While she is new to her job at TennCare, she is not new to the long-term services and supports systems in Tennessee.  Dr. Mills played an instrumental role in designing the Employment and Community First CHOICES (“ECF”) program and in designing pending changes to advance gainful employment and community inclusion in the Intellectual Disability Medicaid Waiver programs that are jointly administered by TennCare and DIDD. 

Dr. Mills brings with her 28 years of experience in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities, including working as a consultant in 20 states and an eight-year tenure in Scotland (1990-1998), working on the closure of institutions, the establishment of community-based services, person-centered planning and self-advocacy.  She also brings the experience of using managed care to deliver long-term services and supports, including in her home state of Wisconsin, which has used a managed care model since 2000. 

Dr. Mills is passionately committed to individuals with disabilities being valued members of our communities and advancing opportunities for service systems to better support and facilitate communities welcoming and including individuals with disabilities, rather than service systems acting as substitute communities.  She sees the number one challenge as overcoming the low expectations that people with disabilities so commonly face, and sometimes come to adopt themselves, because we have been reluctant to see and invest in the potential that every individual possesses.

Lisa is the parent of two adopted sons, including one who receives special education services.  She is a past board member and public policy advisor for the national disability advocacy organization TASH, and she also previously served as a senior technical advisor and Ruderman Foundation Fellow for the National Coalition to Promote Self-Determination. 

Shannon Nehus

Shannon Nehus has joined TennCare as its LTSS (Long-Term Services and Supports) program director for IDD (intellectual and developmental disabilities) and ECF Services. She has over 25 years of experience working with people with IDD. Most recently, she was the executive director of the provider agency Waves, Inc. in Franklin, Tennessee, providing supports to children and adults with IDD through a vision of an inclusive community where everyone works, learns and plays together. 

Nehus has served on numerous boards, councils and coalitions, including the State of Tennessee IDD Legislative Task Force; TennCare State Leadership Group; Leadership Wilson; Children, Youth and Families at Risk Coalition; Wilson County Parents as Teachers Board, Williamson County United Way Board; University of Tennessee State Extension Advisory Council; and the Tennessee Disability Megaconference Program Committee. She has a Master of Science degree in educational psychology from Tennessee Tech University.  

Nehus is committed to empowering individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to progress toward their full potential. “I am excited to be in my new role as the TennCare IDD long-term services director,” said Nehus. “This is a huge opportunity to be able to impact change and to bring to the table my 25 years of experience as a provider of services. I appreciate the opportunity to work with the statewide community of health plans, families, members, provider agencies and multiple state agencies to focus on person-centered supports, employment and all things community inclusion. 

“There are many opportunities to take advantage of - especially with a national focus on employment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” she continued. “I'm excited to be working with Patti Killingsworth, Lisa Mills and the great team at TennCare, and look forward to what we can accomplish.”