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Debra K. Ferguson

DBHDS Commissioner

Debra Ferguson, Ph.D. was named commissioner of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) by Governor Terry McAuliffe in March 2014. 

Dr. Ferguson has over 25 years of experience as a clinical and forensic psychologist in both private practice and the public sector.


Before joining DBHDS, Dr. Ferguson was the Senior Deputy and Chief of Clinical Operations for the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health. There, among her many responsibilities she oversaw quality and safety improvement in all of Illinois’ state psychiatric hospitals, developed strategies to implement and monitor policies and procedures, and managed the staffing, budget and strategic planning to support all division operations. She also held positions within the division as the Associate Deputy Director for Forensics, the Director of Juvenile Forensics, and as a hospital Chief Psychologist.


Prior to her service in Illinois, Dr. Ferguson spent time in the private sector as a clinical psychologist, including nine years in private practice.


Before her private sector experience, Dr. Ferguson was commissioned as a Captain in the U.S. Army upon completing her graduate studies, and was assigned an internship in Clinical Psychology at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She then served as Division Psychologist and Assistant Chief of Mental Health for the 2nd Armored Division at Ft. Hood, Texas. After leaving active duty, she completed a post-doctoral residency program in Clinical Psychology at the Yale University School of Medicine.


Dr. Ferguson received her undergraduate degree from Williams College in Massachusetts and her M.Phil and Ph.D. from The George Washington University in Washington, DC.




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