By Nia Testamark, Morris News Service

ATLANTA -- Every person has a purpose, a task to complete and a mark to leave, and Commissioner Frank Berry found his by working in the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

The Florida State University graduate believes that helping children and families stay together is important. He started working with children in mental health 25 years ago in the public school systems.

“There is nothing more valuable than helping children,” he said.

After being recognizing Berry for working with agencies geared towards family and children services, Gov. Nathan Deal approached him to be commissioner of the department.

Berry, who has a Masters in child development and family relations, accepted the offer and was determined to bring a new approach to the department.

“The department working well together has not always been true,” Berry said.

Berry decided to make some changes to improve both the agency's operations and its coordination with other parts of state government.

“Commissioner Berry has been working tirelessly to improve the quality of our programs and services in Georgia. We are lucky to have him at this moment in time- change management is hard work,” said Kathy Keeley, executive director of All About Developmental Disabilities.

When Berry isn’t helping other children and families, he is spending time with his. He is married with two girls who are nine and 13 years old.

“People think once you become a commissioner that you are unapproachable, but not a lot has changed about me,” he said.

In his free time, he likes to do yard work, fix cars, compete in mud runs in the North Georgia mountains and spend time with his kids. 

“Commissioner Berry is trying to change the stigma about people with developmental disabilities not being able to live in the community. I think he gets it. He understands the needs of individuals and families and wants to do the right thing,” said Eric Jacobson, executive director of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities.