Like many of our staff members, I have a long history in the health and human services fields. Prior to joining DTA, I was the Executive Director for JRI Health, a division of Justice Resource Institute (JRI) Health, an organization that pursues social justice through providing underserved youth, adults and families with opportunities to develop critical skills for living independently.
Before joining JRI in 2005, I was the Executive Director of Cambridge Cares about AIDS. During my tenure there, I instituted model programs for homeless youth and adults that provided case management, behavioral health and health services working consistently with DTA staff to stabilize income, provide food and nutrition services, and to help them build skills for their future. During this time I also served as chair of the Cambridge City Public Health Board, a body that helped shape the priorities of the public health services in the city. By serving in these multiple roles to define helping systems that were fragmented and difficult to navigate, the need to centralize community resources was clear. In association with other leaders in these fields, HousingWorks, Inc. was established to meet that need and I joined this team as President. Throughout my career I have worked in collaboration with others. No one, no agency does this work alone. I have found in DTA and in the Secretariat like-minded spirits, and I am so pleased to be here.
In my role as Commissioner, I hope to bring a unique perspective from both collaborative, client-centered work within the United States and in developing countries. I’ve had the gift of working in and traveling through different parts of the world, seeing how communities with few financial resources come together to address individual and community needs. Women collaboratives, with support, have created powerful and sustainable income-generating and service models that build from cultural strengths emanating from a sense of belonging, mutual responsibility and sharing. Throughout DTA we will be using these lessons to address the “transitional” and sustainable building from the strengths of the individuals, families and communities we serve.
I also hope to build capacity at DTA that will update the agency’s technology, continue to streamline our work and allow DTA case managers greater ability to work directly with individuals, families, and communities. Organizations that provide benefits should not become banks for low-income residents, but instead should focus on serving people in the community, at home, as strategic partners, linking to services, providing resources and helping to move forward toward more self-sufficiency.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve witnessed firsthand that the Department is comprised of smart, caring, and dependable staff members who listen, provide options, and gather resources to provide meaningful interventions for people in need. I am so impressed by the way DTA staff rushed to the aid of residents in Central and Western Massachusetts impacted by the June tornadoes, Hurricane Irene, and the October snowstorm. In offices and tents, staff provided access to critical resources for thousands of individuals and families. These heroic efforts – in the wake of rising caseloads and limited resources – are the essence of DTA.
In the coming weeks and months, I will travel around the Commonwealth to meet with staff, Advisory Boards, legislative and municipal leaders, and community partners to begin the conversation of how we can all work together to build capacity and to respond to urgent needs with optimism and hope. I look forward to meeting you. Please feel free to contact my office at any time by calling 617-348-8400.
A Year of ORI Successes posted on Oct 4
Each year, Massachusetts becomes home to 2,400 individuals through the state’s Refugee Resettlement Program administered by the Office for Refugees and Immigrants (ORI). Most, like Abdulmohsin (Mike) who immigrated to Massachusetts from Iraq in 2013, come with little to no knowledge of American culture or …Continue Reading A Year of ORI Successes
Get to Know the Benefits of Senior Care Options! posted on Sep 21
How Senior Care Options can help you live a more independent, healthier life Medicare. Medicaid. Doctors. Nurses. Vision Services. Dental. These are some of the many components that make up the massive network that encapsulates health care for seniors; and for many seniors and those …Continue Reading Get to Know the Benefits of Senior Care Options!
September is National Recovery Month posted on Sep 12
Did you know that 7.9 million U.S. adults report having had a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, or what’s also known as a co-occurring disorder?[i] During September, the Department of Mental Health is observing National Recovery Month. National Recovery Month educates Americans …Continue Reading September is National Recovery Month