Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Ross Alexander


Consumer Operated Service Providers (COSPs) are programs that are directed and administratively controlled by mental health consumers for their peers. As such, many mental health consumers have been placed in the position of serving on a COSP and often with unclear descriptions and no training. As a result, there is often a disconnect between the will of the board and the vision of the executive director, leading to tension and the possibility of failed mission. Using servant leadership as the guide, the goal of this case study was to explore the experiences of executive directors who operate Consumer Operated Service Providers (COSPs) in Texas that specialize in mental health recovery support services to better understand how they work with mental health consumers serving as their governing board members. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 7 executive directors of COSPs in Texas. Interview data were inductively coded, then subjected to a thematic analysis procedure. Findings revealed that the concept of servant leadership is commonly used to empower board members and create healthy working relationships between boards and executive directors, particularly around the area of motivating board members to engage with the organization. It was also revealed that the existence of COSPs, in conjunction with traditional governing boards, provides a good balance and perspective relative to strategic planning activities and fundraising. Positive social change implications include recommendations to executives of COSPs to more adequately mobilize and train consumer board members in order to achieve organizational goals that often include consumer focused care and treatment for a wide range of mental health issues.