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The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. Coalition Briefs
An Evolving Update on Behavioral Health in New York

New CEO Appointed at The Coalition

christyChristy Parque has been named Chief Executive Officer of The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies (The Coalition), an umbrella advocacy organization representing more than 130 of New York's community-based behavioral health nonprofits. The appointment was announced by The Coalition’s President Tino Hernandez, on behalf of its Board of Directors. Ms. Parque will begin her new position effective April 4, 2016.

Ms. Parque joins The Coalition from Homeless Services United (HSU) where she has served as Executive Director since 2007. Her work at HSU, a 50-member association of non-profit organizations serving homeless people, has focused on creating sound homeless and housing policy, providing advocacy, information and training to providers around the provision of housing and support services for homeless populations in New York City. Trained as a social worker and with a healthcare, labor and social justice background, she is a consummate advocate and has worked tirelessly to develop collaborative relationships with elected officials, government professionals, community partners and service providers.

During her nine-year tenure at HSU, Ms. Parque has grown the organization, significantly increasing its funding and offering greater training opportunities for her member agencies. She has developed and implemented successful advocacy campaigns at the city, state and federal levels and has championed programs and funding to study and support best practices in the field. She has been an active participant on several high-level City and State task forces with sector and government stakeholders. She co-authored “A Roadmap to End Homelessness in New York City,” (2013), a guide written for the incoming Mayor and City Council detailing proven, cost-effective policies to prevent and end homelessness in New York City.

"After a nationwide search, we are very fortunate to have found Christy Parque who will bring her considerable organizational and advocacy skills to The Coalition," said Tino Hernandez. "We are looking forward to her stepping into our sector at a time of great complexity and rapid change. She will bring new energy and ideas to the community-based behavioral health sector. Her knowledge about homelessness will be an important asset as The Coalition also represents many service providers that provide specialized services to homeless New Yorkers with mental illness and addictions."

Ms. Parque is succeeding Phillip A. Saperia, who has served as CEO of The Coalition for more than 21 years. Mr. Saperia guided The Coalition from a coalition of mental health providers in just New York City to a larger and more robust organization representing more than 120 downstate members who provide behavioral health services to people with mental illness and substance use disorders.


Melissa Thomas Joins Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery as Senior Program Associate

melissaMelissa Thomas, LCSW, has been appointed to the position of Senior Program Associate at The Coalition’s Center for Rehabilitation and Recovery. She received her BA in Psychology from SUNY Albany and a MSW from Fordham University. Prior to joining the Center, Melissa worked for over 7 years at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as a Program Specialist in the Bureau of Mental Health, Office of Rehabilitation.

During her tenure there, she provided contract management/oversight and technical assistance to mental health rehabilitation programs including: Assisted Competitive Employment (ACE), Clubhouse, Mobile Outreach, Peer Bridger, Psychosocial Club, Recovery Center, and Supported Education programs. Melissa also served as a Program Director for ACT, Bridger, Supported Housing, and Transitional Employment programs at ICL.


Phillip Saperia & Steve Coe to be Honored at National Council Conference

philPhillip Saperia, The Coalition’s CEO will be awarded the Visionary Leadership Award of Excellence from the National Council for Community Behavioral Health. Steve Coe, CEO of Coalition member Community Access will receive the award for Individual Achievement in Advocacy.

The Visionary Leadership award also comes with a sizable donation to an organization of the honoree’s choice and we are so pleased that Phillip has selected The Coalition to be the recipient of this $10,000 donation. We think this award is a fitting way to honor Phillip’s 21-year tenure and his considerable achievements at The Coalition as he retires at the end of March.

steveSteve is receiving an Individual Achievement in Advocacy for his instrumental work in 2015 on the implementation of Crisis Intervention Team training of 5,500 NYPD officers. Because of his advocacy, NYC policymakers agreed to create two diversion centers this year where the NYPD can bring people experiencing psychiatric distress, in order to keep them out of jails and hospitals.

His goal for 2016 is to advocate for the expansion of that training to 10,000 NYC police officers.

Phillip and Steve will receive their awards at the National Council’s upcoming conference in Las Vegas on the evening of March 8. Congratulations and thanks to both worthy honorees!


Mayor de Blasio Appoints Herminia Palacio as Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services

palacioOn January 5, 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Herminia Palacio, MD, MPH as Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. With 25 years of experience in a range of health and social services professions, Palacio will be tasked with addressing homelessness across the five boroughs, developing a citywide network for mental health support, coordinating across the City’s public health care system, improving access to social services for all New Yorkers, and ensuring Agencies that oversee the City’s most vulnerable populations, such as children and victims of domestic violence, are run compassionately and effectively.

Dr. Palacio enters her new role with extensive public health experience across a broad range of sectors, including academic, government, clinical and non-profit. She most recently served as Director of Advancing Change Leadership at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where she was responsible for developing and implementing new health leadership programs. Prior to joining RWJF, she served as Executive Director of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, the local health department for more than four million people in Harris County, Texas.

Palacio received her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and holds a Masters of Public Health, with a specialty in epidemiology, from the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health, and a BA in biology from Barnard College at Columbia University. She has authored numerous articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The Coalition welcomes Dr. Palacio and looks forward to working with her to support our behavioral health community.


New York’s Medicaid Redesign Team Is Finalist for 2015 Innovations in American Government Awards

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University recognized the Medicaid Redesign Team as one of five finalists in the 2015 Innovations in American Government Awards competition. The national award recognizes dedicated government initiatives that address policy issues such as economic development, environmental and community revitalization, public health, equal access to education, emergency preparedness, and health care.


The Coalition Visits Albany

albanyOn February, 1st and 2nd, Coalition staff and members visited traveled to the State Capitol to meet legislators, Senate & Assembly Finance and Ways & Means staffs, OMH, OASAS, DOH and the Governor’s office to advocate for the Coalition’s Albany Agenda 2016.

In total, The Coalition visited 25 different legislative and executive offices over the two days in Albany.

We had an excellent turnout, which included 23 members and staff.

Christine Tramontano of Malkin & Ross (The Coalition’s Albany-based consultant) briefed the attendees during a breakfast meeting on the first day, which set the context and agenda for the meetings.

We want to thank all of our members who joined us and encourage you to consider making the trip with us to Albany next year.


The Coalition Joins Advocacy and Faith Organizations Calling for a Ban on Alcohol Advertising in the NYC Public Transit system

The Coalition has joined with other advocacy and faith-based organizations in calling for a ban on advertising in the NYC Public Transit system.

The New York City Council is considering legislation on this issue. Resolution 0922-2015 calls upon the MTA, the Governor and the State Legislature to prohibit advertisement for alcoholic beverages on subways, buses and other New York City Transit property.

Every day our member agencies witness up close the damage that underage drinking causes to children, families, and neighborhoods. Underage drinking is a prime factor in the three leading causes of death among young people – unintentional injury, violence, and self-inflicted injury. Moreover, NYCDOHMH reports that NYC hospitals see nearly 7,000 underage alcohol-related emergency room visits every year.

With that in mind, it is simply unacceptable that the MTA would raise revenue by facilitating the exposure of the children and youth of NYC to alcohol advertising. All the more egregious is the fact that the subways and buses of NYCT serve as the publicly funded school bus for hundreds of thousands of NYC public school students.

For more information, please visit the website of Building Alcohol Ad Free Transit (BAAFT) to find out how and/or your agency can become involved with this worthy campaign.


The Coalition Provides Testimony at 3 Hearings

Cheryl Bobe, The Coalition’s Senior Associate for Substance Use Services, submitted a written statement to the New York City Council’s Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services. The statement was in response to a Committee hearing entitled, “ Alcohol Abuse in New York City” held on December 3, 2015.
A copy of the statement can be found here.

On January 28, 2016, Jamin Sewell, the Coalition’s Counsel & Managing Director for Policy and Advocacy, gave testimony on “Thrive NYC, A Mental Health Road Map for All” before the NYC Council Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services.
Click here for the testimony.

Finally,The Coalition submitted written testimony to the Joint Legislative (NYS Senate & Assembly) Public Hearing on the 2016-2017 Executive Budget Proposal: Topic "Mental Hygiene" on February 3, 2016.
To read the testimony, click here.


New Member

A new organization has joined The Coalition family since our last issue of Briefs.

GMHC is the world’s first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy. Since 1982, through GMHC’s dedication and expertise, it has understood the reality of HIV/AIDS and how to empower a healthy life for all. We all are delighted that GMHC has joined The Coalition family!


Around the Water Cooler

phoebePhoebe C. Boyer, president and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society was quoted in a New York Nonprofit Media article about the funding for nonprofits in Governor Cuomo’s proposed executive budget.




bridgeThe Bridge held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its newest housing program, Herkimer Street Residence, on February 11, 2016


The Brooklyn Community Services (BCS) teen empowerment program Youth Stand: Coney Island has been awarded a $30,000 Brooklyn Community Foundation “Invest in Youth Grant” that will enable BCS to increase participation in the program, particularly with youth from Coney Island’s immigrant Hispanic, Chinese and Pakistan communities.


New York Community Trust announced that Coalition member, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center and our office mates, Coordinated Behavioral Care (CBC), both received grants from the New York Community Trust. Callen-Lorde will receive funds to support its work with Coalition members SAGE and the LGBT Community Center to provide coordinated services for gay, lesbian, and transgender patients. CBC was funded to coordinate care for people with medical, mental health, and substance-abuse problems. Kudos to all!


In a press release of January 16, 2016, The Child Center of NY announced that it had been awarded a grant of over $30,000 from the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation to support The Child Center’s Asian Outreach Program. The gift will help provide mental health screening, information, and counseling to 225 first- and second generation Asian American students, ages 5-18, who live below the poverty line and attend public schools in Queens. Congratulations!


elsaElsa Cruz Pearson, a staff attorney at The Family Center, was profiled in New York Nonprofit Media.


The Coalition for Supportive Housing announced its selection of 5 subgrantees under its 2015 “New York City Moving On” initiative. 3 of the 5 subgrantees are Coalition members! The grants are designed to enable tenants who have achieved stability in supportive housing to transition to other independent housing. Congratulations to our members, Community Access, Project Renewal and Services for the Underserved (SUS)!


In a press relase of December 3, 2015, the New York Community Trust annouced that it had awarded 2 Coalition members grants as part of a $5.1 million effort “to make life better for New Yorkers.” Community Health Action of Staten Island will receive $80,000 to expand substance use disorder services on Staten Island. The Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA) will receive $93,000 to prepare young children in foster care for school by providing tutoring in reading, writing, and help with self-discipline.


Community Healthcare Network provided the advice in the “Today’s Tips” section of the January 10, 2016 edition of Politico New York Healthcare.


katyCoalition member, Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey, named a new President and CEO, Katy Gaul-Stigge, effective mid-March, 2016. Ms. Gaul-Stigge is currently the executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development and has led key citywide workforce development agencies for over a decade.

Previously, Ms. Gaul-Stigge was deputy commissioner of employment and contracts for the Human Resources Administration of the City of New York. Prior to that, she served as Assistant Commissioner of Workforce1 Training and Advancement at the Department of Small Business Services.

Ms. Gaul-Stigge graduated from Mount Holyoke College and received a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. She succeeds William J. Forrester who retires after 33 years of service. We welcome her to The Coalition family.


angelaAngela Ghiozzi was appointed by Leake & Watts as Assistant Executive Director of Early Childhood Services.

Previously Ms. Ghiozzi was the Assistant Executive Director for Early Childhood Education for Lutheran Social Services of Metropolitan New York; Vice President for Children and Youth Services at Lifespire, Inc. and Executive Director of B.O.L.D. (Bronx Organization for the Learning Disabled, Inc.).

She has also served as Supervisor of Special Education for the Nyack Public Schools and Principal at A.H.R.C.’s Central Park Early Learning Center.


Craig Hughes, Assistant Director of Resource Counseling at Safe Horizon's Streetwork Project, was quoted in a City Limits article on young homeless adults.


dennisL. Dennis Kozlowski was elected by The Fortune Society’s Board of Directors as its new Chairman.

According to The Fortune Society’s press release, “Kozlowski, who now runs an M&A and business consulting practice, was the former Chairman of the Board at Tyco International.

After helping lead the company through years of unprecedented growth and expansion, he parted ways with Tyco in 2002 in a scandal. He served six-and-a-half years in prison. Kozlowski has been an active member of The Fortune Society’s Board since January 2014.”

Also elected to the Board were John H. Eley, CEO of GoldenSource, Inc.; Danny Franklin, partner at Benenson Strategy Group; Abdul Lloyd-Bey, lawyer, teacher and criminal justice reform advocate; Ray Tebout; owner and Chief Consultant for Mind Frame Development Solutions; Cheryl Wilkins, Senior Director of Education and Programs at Columbia University’s Center for Justice; and John Zeiler, CEO and Managing Member of Hudson Housing Capital.


dougDouglas O’Dell, executive director of SCO Family of Services was quoted in a New York Times article on youth homelessness. The Bridge and Safe Horizon were also mentioned in that article.



joanneJoanne Page, CEO of The Fortune Society, had an op-ed on criminal justice reform published in New York Nonprofit Media.



stonewallThe Stonewall Community Foundation awarded a 2015 Stonewall Quarter Share Program Grant grant to the Rainbow Heights Club in the amount of $60,000. Congrats to Christian Huygen and staff for this well-deserved award!




schorrAllegra Schorr, President of the Coalition of Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates (COMPA), with whom The Coalition has a strategic affiliation, had a letter published in the Daily News on Februry 5, 2016.

The letter was in response to an Op-Ed which among other things, supported legislation to limit the siting of methadone clinics.



SCO Family of Services Annual Taft Academy Conference was highlighted in New York Nonprofit Daily on 2/5/16.


SUS, CASES and Center for Urban Community Solutions (CUCS) were designated by the de Blasio administration to receive NYC Safe funding to set up and operate Intensive Mobile Treatment teams. SUS is receiving an additional NYC Safe grant to increase the effectiveness of its three Assertive Community Treatment teams in Harlem by hiring Substance Abuse Specialists to treat co-occurring substance use and mental illness. Congratulations to our three members on this change-making grants.


volunteersCoalition member, Volunteers of America-Greater New York, appointed Paul H. Torres as Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer. He succeeds Tere Pettitt, who was appointed the organization's President and CEO in August 2014.

Torres spent more than two decades with the Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA), another Coalition member. Torres has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Hamilton College where he completed an undergraduate study abroad program with the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Masters of Social Work from Columbia University, where he earned additional certification in Not-for-Profit Management.

He is a New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is trained in various evidence-based therapies. Torres is a member of numerous workgroups and task forces on Medicaid Managed Care. (See, press release.) The Coalition welcomes him to his new Coalition vantage point.


Coalition Job Board

Coalition Members advertise staff positions for free on The Coalition’s Job Board!  Here's a sample:

Job #  Job Title
9161 Child Parent Psychology Program Director
9162 Budget Manager


Discharge Planner ICAN


Employment Specialist


Nurse Practitioner

9172 Physician
9177 Housing Specialist
9198 Case Manager - OMH Brooklyn
9209 Psychiatrist



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