Illume is a collaboration of like-minded people and organizations who work to ensure that behavioral health evidence-based practices and treatments are available to all people in our region, and across the country. Our faculty of experts are available to lead consultations, trainings, and serve as mentors.

Julie Blanco, LCSW, CRAADC

Director of Training and Technical Assistance

For the past 33 years, Illume Director of Training Julie Blanco has dedicated her career to supporting individuals living with mental illness and substance use concerns. Julie joined Community Alternatives in 1997 as a clinical supervisor, and has held numerous leadership roles since, including 11 years as Integrated Treatment Program Manager (first at Community Alternatives, then at Places for People following the two organizations’ merger). Julie joined Illume to oversee and present training and mentorship programs for the Center of Excellence. Julie is certified as a Trainer for TREM, is Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) member, a Certified Trainer of CRA, among other licensure and certifications. Additionally, Julie has been an adjunct professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis since Spring 2020.

Cara Jacobsen, MSW

Illume Manager

Cara started her career in research at Siteman Cancer Center and worked her way to a clinical director position at a local stress management company, eventually finding her place as the manager of Illume. She earned her Masters in Social Work at Saint Louis University, specializing in Health Care Administration. Cara first joined Places for People as a practicum student on the PATH team in case management, working with individuals with HIV/AIDs experiencing homelessness. She rejoined PFP in 2017 as an Employment Services Specialist, eventually supervising the department, which gained exemplary fidelity status under her guidance. Cara joined the Center of Excellence as Director in 2020. She has participated on a number of committees and projects such as the System of Care Advisory Board, Cultural Competency Committee and Center of Excellence. Cara firmly believes in Illume’s mission for growth through steady leadership, engaging the community and fostering systems of change.

Nathan Dell, AM MSW LCSW

Director of Research & Evaluation

Nathaniel A. Dell, AM, MSW, LCSW is Director of Research & Evaluation at Places for People, Inc. and Illume: The Behavioral Health Center of Excellence. He is a PhD Candidate in the School of Social Work, College for Public Health & Social Justice, Saint Louis University. His social work practice experience includes providing clinical services for adults experiencing homelessness with mental health and substance use concerns. His research interests include evidence synthesis methods, mental health recovery across the lifespan, philosophy of science, and personality functioning.

Google Scholar profile

Gary Morse, PhD

Illume Director

Since 1981, Dr. Gary Morse has served in the mental health care field providing behavioral health services, researching and developing best practices, administering programs, consulting, and training. In 1995, he founded the mental health care organization Community Alternatives after Missouri privatized outpatient mental health services. CA joined with Places for People in January 2011 to provide more clients with expanded services.
The focus of Dr. Morse’s professional work has been to reduce the suffering and improve the wellness of people living with mental health disorders. His activities in support of this work can be summarized in four inter-related areas:
  • Helping to create, implement, and scientifically test the effectiveness of compassionate and innovative services for people with mental health disorders
  • Establishing and providing leadership to community-based behavioral health programs and agencies for individuals with low-income
  • Communicating to the profession about effective ways to serve people with severe and challenging mental health and psychosocial needs
  • Raising funds to support needed mental health services, research, and program development
Dr. Morse has served as the principal investigator on a number of large federal grant projects, and authored more than 50 professional articles.

Joe Yancey

Illume Consultant

Retired Places for People CEO Joe Yancey has dedicated nearly 41 years to providing community behavioral health services in St. Louis. A community leader serving on numerous boards and commissions at the local and state level, Yancey guided Places for People through a historic merger with Community Alternatives in 2011 as Executive Director.
In 2016, Yancey received one of the highest forms of recognition in his field when he earned the Silver Key Award from Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri. The honor acknowledges the effort, values, and ethics that comprise the character of those who support improved treatment and care of people with mental illness.
Yancey has held leadership positions with many behavioral health care organizations, including the Missouri Department of Mental Health, where he served as Assistant Regional Manager for the Eastern Region, Interim Deputy Director of the Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services and lead adult policy director for the federally funded Mental Health Transformation project.
Additionally, Joe has a long history of leadership roles in St. Louis.
  • Current Chair of St. Louis Regional Health Commission Community Advisory Board
  • Current commissioner on the St. Louis Regional Health Commission
  • Current board member on SIRV (St. Louis Inititative to Reduce Violence)
  • Current board member (former chair) of Behavioral Health Network
  • Served as lead adult policy coordinator for the Missouri Mental Health Transformation Initiative

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Cara Jacobsen

Call 314-535-5600 / Ext. 275