HCN News & Notes

Behavioral Health Network Announces Leadership Change

SPRINGFIELD — Katherine Wilson, longtime president and CEO of Behavioral Health Network (BHN), announced she will retire on June 30. George Marion, BHN board chair, said the organization has named Steven Winn, BHN’s current chief operating officer, as Wilson’s successor.

Wilson was instrumental in the formation of Behavioral Health Network in 1992 when four nonprofit mental-health organizations — the Child Guidance Clinic, the Agawam Counseling Center, Community Care Mental Health Center, and the Hampden District Mental Health Clinic — formed the new entity and appointed Wilson CEO.

Since BHN’s founding, Wilson has built the organization from a $1 million annual enterprise into a leading behavioral-health agency in the region. Under her leadership, BHN has grown dramatically and now serves more than 40,000 individuals in the four Western Mass. counties, employs over 2,300 people, and has an annual budget of more than $115 million.

Most recently, Wilson was named a Healthcare Hero for Lifetime Achievement by HCN and BusinessWest and was celebrated in the book Power of Women published by the Republican. She is regarded as a leader in Massachusetts and the region in behavioral health and the integration of general health and behavioral health.

“Kathy Wilson’s importance to the success of BHN cannot be overstated,” Marion said. “Indeed, BHN came into existence largely due to Kathy’s efforts and vision.”

Under Wilson’s direction, BHN transformed an abandoned factory complex on Liberty Street in Springfield into a sprawling campus that includes BHN’s corporate headquarters, the innovative Living Room drop-in center, Cole’s Place recovery program for men, the 24/7 Crisis Center, an adult outpatient clinic, and its care coordination and outreach services. She also implemented the acquisitions of the Carson Center in Westfield and its affiliate, Valley Human Services in Ware.

With the rise of the opioid epidemic, Wilson guided the strategy to provide more recovery resources in the community, and BHN opened new outpatient and inpatient programming in the rehabilitated Lunt Silversmiths building in Greenfield for those needing recovery services in Franklin County.

Wilson began her career as a psychotherapist and worked for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health during the critical time when both Northampton State Hospital and Belchertown State School were closed by court mandate. The closings began a period of community-based care and services, and BHN, under Wilson, was at the forefront. Under her leadership, BHN expanded its footprint for those needing residential developmental services.

“It is no exaggeration to say Kathy Wilson is an iconic figure in Western Massachusetts in the area of behavioral health,” Marion said. “She is a trailblazer that helped our community, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, replace the state hospital system with the more humane community-based system we have today. She has left a legacy of caring and serving in a way that has made a difference in the lives of thousands of individuals needing behavioral-health and recovery services. Kathy will be sorely missed but leaves BHN in a strong position to continue its leadership in providing developmental, behavioral, and recovery services throughout Western Massachusetts.”

One of Wilson’s strengths as CEO, he added, has been her ability to develop and mentor a capable and committed executive leadership team. “There is perhaps no better example than Steve Winn, whom we are delighted to name as our next CEO.”

Winn joined BHN in 1995 as vice president and director of the Child Guidance Clinic. He was later promoted to senior vice president and since 2017 has served BHN as chief operating officer.

Winn has extensive experience in the behavioral-health field. He received a master’s degree in developmental psychology and a Ph.D. in clinical and developmental psychology, both from UMass Amherst. He went on to complete his fellowship at Yale University’s Child Study Center. After Yale, he became a staff psychologist at the University of New Mexico Children’s Psychiatric Hospital, where he also taught in the Department of Psychiatry as an assistant professor of Psychiatry. Winn is a licensed clinical psychologist in Massachusetts.

According to Marion, “Steve has intimate knowledge of the organization, its people, and its programs. He also has established strong partnerships and enjoys an excellent reputation with local and statewide funders, key partners, and stakeholders. In short, Steve has been an important contributor to BHN’s growth and success, and the board believes there is no better person than Steve Winn to assume the role of BHN’s CEO and continue that growth and success.”

Added Wilson, “BHN has given me so much personal pleasure, professional pride, and a sense of accomplishment. BHN is a great organization with dedicated staff who are remarkable in their commitment to BHN’s mission. While I am sad to be leaving, I am comforted by the board’s decision to name Steve Winn as the next CEO. He has been a vital part of BHN’s past successes and growth, and his vision for the future will serve BHN well.”