SPRINGFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it has hired a Social Justice director for the organization. Chelan Brown will work collaboratively with staff and leadership to amplify and advance the work toward racial and social equity at BHN and in the community.
The creation of the Social Justice director position is the result of a significant investment of time and energy of BHN’s social justice committee members, executive leadership team, board of directors, and staff from all sectors of BHN who are committed to the work of social justice.
Brown has extensive experience in social-justice work, both in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. She previously worked at MGM Springfield as Construction Diversity manager, where she ensured the hiring of a diverse workforce and that women, minority, and veteran-owned companies were actively engaged and included in all bid opportunities for the construction of the casino.
“Since I was a child, I have possessed a passion for fighting for people who need allies, and I have used that passion to lead activities, campaigns, and initiatives that hold systems and individuals accountable for ensuring vulnerable populations have equal opportunities,” Brown said. “I am excited to join BHN and use my experience to drive racial and social equity in the workplace and community.”
Brown’s experience in the nonprofit sector includes serving as manager of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ Network Capacity Building department and as Community Engagement coordinator, where she coordinated the development of the Springfield Food Access Project. She was also a member of the Food Bank’s management, advocacy, and diversity team.
Brown focused her early-career social-justice and community-organizing efforts on violence prevention and gang diversion. In 2005, she founded the nonprofit agency Alive with Awareness, Knowledge & Empowerment (AWAKE), a violence-prevention organization in Springfield. At AWAKE, she built a framework and created programs to ensure that youth of color and their families were provided access to opportunities, support systems, and basic needs to live productive and successful lives.
“Chelan Brown has a long history of diversity, equity, and inclusion work in for-profit, nonprofit, and community-based contexts,” said Steve Winn, president and CEO of BHN. “ We are excited that she will bring her passion, commitment, and organizational skills to BHN’s social-justice efforts. This work is incredibly difficult, and Chelan will bring the leadership needed to help us continue to make real and lasting changes.”