In Memoriam

Caitlin Wright Binning

June 29, 1966 - July 25, 2003

Caitlin W. Binning, 37; Advocate for Mentally Ill

Saturday, August 2, 2003; Page B07

Caitlin Wright Binning, 37, a pugnacious advocate who fought for reforms of Virginia's public mental health system, died of cancer July 25 at her home in Annandale.

From 1995 to 2001, Mrs. Binning was deputy director of the Virginia chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Among her duties was working as a case manager and clinician who assisted individuals and their families dealing with mental illness.

In the mid-1990s, she helped draw public attention to the death of Gloria Huntley at Central State Hospital near Petersburg. The case, which she researched for seven months, helped expose neglect and abuse among state agencies responsible for mental health treatment.

Mrs. Binning campaigned to strengthen laws to protect the rights of the mentally ill and led efforts to transform Virginia's human rights watchdog, the Department of Rights of Virginians with Disabilities, into a more independent agency known now as the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy.

She became an authority on community-based mental health programs and sought to expand Medicaid's mental health coverage.

Mrs. Binning, who briefly worked as executive director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition in Washington before her health began to fail in late 2001, was born in Denver and raised in Richmond. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she also received a master's degree in social work.

One of her early jobs was working at a Richmond homeless shelter run by the nonprofit agency Daily Planet.

Survivors include her husband, Timothy Binning of Annandale; her mother, Maureen Larkin Wright of Amelia, Va.; a brother; and six half siblings.

2003 The Washington Post Company