Bill Harper took a detour from chemistry to major in compassion. He was majoring in chemistry at BGSU when he volunteered at a drug abuse hot line. Listening to those calls for help convinced him to focus on social work instead of science. He now serves as executive director of the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, overseeing a $76.5 million budget and 30 agencies in the Akron area.

After switching his major to social work and graduating, his first job was as a social worker at Lima State Hospital. Before beginning his administrative career, he was an assistant professor for social work at BGSU from 1986 to 1994.

He previously served as assistant director at the Ohio Department of Mental Health. Before being appointed to the state position in 2007, he served as executive director of the Lorain County Board of Mental Health; Mental Health Recovery Services of Warren and Lincoln counties; and Four County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services in Archbold. He has been honored twice as the Administrator of the Year by the Ohio Advocates for Mental Health. In 2002 he was named an Accomplished Graduate of the College of Health and Human Services.