Career Pulse – Dec 18

Williamson Tapped to Lead Orchard Valley at Wilbraham
Catherine Williamson
Catherine Williamson

WILBRAHAM — Catherine Williamson was recently named executive director at Orchard Valley at Wilbraham, a Benchmark assisted-living and memory-care community. Benchmark is a leading provider of senior-living services in the Northeast.

“I consider myself to be a servant leader,” Williamson said. “Like Benchmark, I am committed to elevating human connection and keeping our residents, family members, and associates connected to what matters most in their lives. When we are all connected, we are truly better together.”
Before moving into the senior-care field, Williamson had a long career in hospitality, managing world-class spas for hotels, including the Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton. She holds a master’s degree in gerontology from UMass Boston and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Howard University. In her spare time, she has volunteered as a SHINE (Serving Health Information Needs of Elders) counselor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, educating Medicare beneficiaries about their benefits. She also formerly hosted a lifestyle television show, Senior Views, for the Enfield, Conn. Commission on Aging.
“Catherine not only shares our Benchmark vision and values, but also understands how to blend superior senior care with our unique brand of hospitality. I know she will create the lifestyle Wilbraham seniors want,” said Lara Eldridge, regional director of operations for Benchmark. “We are fortunate to have her expertise and knowledge and are confident she will be a huge asset to our families.” 
Gándara’s East-Trou Announces Retirement
Henry East-Trou
Henry East-Trou

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Henry East-Trou is stepping down as executive director of the Gándara Center after 36 years on the job, 29 of which have been in his current leadership role, shepherding the agency through an era of unprecedented growth.

East-Trou joined the center in 1982 as a clinical supervisor for the agency’s psychiatric day treatment program. At the time, the organization had one location in Springfield’s North End neighborhood, its outpatient mental-health clinic, and employed approximately 30 staff. Today, the Gándara Center is home to behavioral-health, substance-use-prevention, and educational services at more than 45 locations throughout the state; employs close to 900 staff; and serves more than 12,000 adults, children, and families from the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable populations.
The agency’s mission is to serve diverse populations with its roots planted respectively in the Latino community. “I felt like the Hispanic community really gave me a job to do,” East-Trou said. “My hope has always been to leave this organization better than it was when I began. Although it has been challenging at times, we have always been able to deliver quality services to the people who needed us most.”
East-Trou’s departure will take place in May 2019. The organization is planning an event to be held that month, open to the public, to honor his career and commitment to the community. Proceeds raised will benefit the agency’s Aventura! Summer Camp Scholarship Program, which provides youth from low-income Springfield families the opportunity to attend city-wide summer-camp programs.
The Gándara Center will begin the search for its new leadership immediately. Qualified candidates are encouraged to reach out directly to Pam Thornton at the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast at pthornton@eane.org.
Sunshine Village Welcomes Pollender as HR Director
Christine Pollender
Christine Pollender

CHICOPEE — Sunshine Village recently welcomed Christine Pollender as the new director of Human Resources. With the organization serving more than 500 individuals, Pollender will oversee employee relations, benefits administration, and procedural compliance for over 260 employees at nine sites across the Pioneer Valley. With an extensive background in human resources in retail and hospital settings, she brings subject-matter expertise to navigate the recent changes to state and federal laws for employers.

Pollender received both a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in business administration from Western New England University. She holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and is a Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, including the local chapter, the Human Resources Management Assoc. of Western New England, where she serves on its diversity and inclusion committee. 
Sunshine Village is a nonprofit organization with a main campus in Chicopee and additional sites in Chicopee, Springfield, Three Rivers, and Westfield. Since 1967, it has provided innovative day services for people with developmental disabilities, including those on the autism spectrum.
Austen Riggs Center Names Plakun Medical Director/CEO
STOCKBRIDGE — The Austen Riggs Center’s board of trustees announced the appointment of Dr. Eric Plakun as medical director/CEO.
“We are thrilled that Eric will be taking up the role of medical director/CEO,” said Lisa Raskin, chair of the board of trustees. “His unwavering commitment to the center and demonstrated leadership throughout his distinguished career have helped to make Riggs what it is today.”
In addition to his long professional career at the Austen Riggs Center, where he oversaw development of the continuum of care and served most recently as associate medical director, Plakun is also a leader in organized psychiatry and psychoanalysis, author of more than 50 publications, a member of several journal editorial boards, and a past member of the Harvard clinical faculty. He is a member of the American Psychiatric Assoc. board of trustees representing New England and Eastern Canada, and has been honored as the Outstanding Psychiatrist in Clinical Psychiatry by the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society and by the American Psychoanalytic Assoc. “for championing psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy within American psychiatry and paving the way toward a return to an individualized treatment model.”
“I am deeply honored and excited to take on the leadership of an institution whose work and mission I feel so wholly committed to,” Plakun said.
Dr. Andrew Gerber, former medical director/CEO, will be pursing another professional opportunity. Gerber, who joined the Riggs staff in 2015, was instrumental in establishing several strategic initiatives in areas including human development and suicide research and education. “We are grateful for Andrew’s contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors,” Raskin said.
Sheils Appointed Director of Bay Path’s DNP Program
Cheryl Sheils
Cheryl Sheils

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announced that Cheryl Sheils has been named program director for its new doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree program. 

Sheils comes to the university from Elms College, where she taught in the Nursing program for nearly 30 years at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She was a founding member and nurse manager for 20 years at Pioneer Valley Free Health Service in East Longmeadow. She has also been project director for an HRSA Health Workforce Diversity Grant and has travelled to Jamaica with nursing students on medical missions for the past several years. She has presented at numerous conferences, and her articles have been published in industry journals and other publications.
“I am excited about welcoming nursing graduates of Bay Path’s RN to BSN program back to the university to pursue the doctor of nursing practice, as well as graduates from other colleges and universities who seek top-quality online education,” Sheils said. 
The DNP program, set to begin in spring 2019, will be offered 100{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} online, ensuring flexibility for nurses who wish to obtain the skills to become advanced nurse practitioners with a specialization in family practice (FNP). 
“Bay Path’s doctor of nursing practice program is one of only five fully online programs of its kind in the country,” Sheils said. “The online format allows working RNs to further their professional development and careers without having to leave their living and workplace environments. Bay Path University has been a leader in providing online education in several fields and provides first-rate support for online learners.”
Fynan Joins Oncology Team at BMC Cancer Center
Dr. Thomas Fynan
Dr. Thomas Fynan

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Health Systems announced the appointment of Dr. Thomas Fynan, a board-certified and fellowship-trained medical oncologist, to the medical staff of Berkshire Medical Center and the physician staff of Hematology Oncology Services of BMC, located at the BMC Cancer Center.

Fynan is accepting new patients in need of medical oncology services and joins Drs. Michael DeLeo, Trevor Bayliss, Sean Mullally, and Nasir Ahmad in providing comprehensive care at the center. 
Fynan is board-certified in internal medicine and medical oncology and was fellowship-trained in medical oncology at Yale University School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Rutgers Medical School, and completed his residency in internal medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York. He comes to the Berkshires after serving as the chair of Medical Oncology and Hematology at the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven, Conn.
DiCenso Named to Board of Animal-welfare Organization
SPRINGFIELD — Carmine DiCenso, executive director at Dakin Humane Society, was unanimously appointed to serve on the board of directors for the Assoc. for Animal Welfare Advancement (AAWA).
The national organization, formerly known as the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators, is based in Surprise, Ariz. Its purpose is to create an association with professional administrators employed by organizations generally accepted to be a part of the humane movement. The goal of the board of directors is to design its management and annual conferences in an effort to continually enhance the standards of competence and integrity of its membership, as well as provide a significant benefit to the humane movement.
DiCenso joins a team of more than a dozen animal-welfare professionals from around the country in serving on the board, which is chaired by Lisa LaFontaine of Humane Rescue Alliance.
“I am honored and humbled to have been appointed to this board,” DiCenso said. “I look forward to working closely with top leaders and innovators in the field of animal welfare. I know that I will be inspired and learn so much from this experience, and I look forward to bringing that knowledge to Dakin to assist animals and people in the Pioneer Valley.”
Strempek Appointed Executive Director at Holyoke VNA Hospice Life Care
Debra Strempek
Debra Strempek

HOLYOKE — Holyoke VNA Hospice Life Care, a member of Valley Health Systems and affiliate of Holyoke Medical Center, announced the appointment of Debra Strempek as its executive director.

“I am honored to join the Holyoke VNA Hospice Life Care team, with its experienced staff who are dedicated to providing superior, compassionate care in the homes of individuals and families throughout our region,” Strempek said. “I started my career 30 years ago at Holyoke Hospital and am excited to return and be a part of the Valley Health Systems family.”
Holyoke VNA Hospice Life Care offers a full range of home-healthcare services which promote independence and quality of life. The professional team includes registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers, home health aides, dietitians, interpreters, a chaplain, and volunteers.
Strempek has an extensive background in home care in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, and has overseen clinical, operational, budgetary, quality, marketing, and patient-satisfaction components. She has served in the roles of clinician, administrator, director, and executive director for various facilities, including two startup home-care agencies in Eastern Mass.
Strempek received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Elms College. She is a certified CNA instructor for the American Red Cross and is a member of the National Nurses Assoc., as well as a member of the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce.
Ogrodnik Joins Staff at Mercy Medical Center
Dr. Aleksandra Ogrodnik
Dr. Aleksandra Ogrodnik

SPRINGFIELD — Dr. Aleksandra Ogrodnik has joined the staff of Mercy Medical Center and Trinity Health Of New England Medical Group as a member of their General Surgery practice. 

Board-certified in general surgery, Ogrodnik most recently completed a minimally invasive surgery fellowship at Staten Island University Hospital in Staten Island, N.Y. In addition, she completed a residency in general surgery at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Conn. She received her medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington, Conn.
Ogrodnik’s clinical interests include minimally invasive surgery, with a special interest in abdominal wall hernias. She welcomes new patients to the Trinity Health Of New England Medical Group office at 175 Carew St. in Springfield
AIC’s Chapin Inducted into Section V Basketball Hall of Fame
SPRINGFIELD — Jessica Chapin, American International College’s (AIC) associate athletic director/compliance senior woman administrator/deputy Title IX coordinator, is one of 18 individuals recently inducted into the Section V Basketball Hall of Fame in New York. She played with Honeoye Falls-Lima Central School District.
Chapin was a member of the first-team All-State in 2005 with the Class A state champion Cougars. She finished second all-time in Section V girls’ basketball in three-point field goals, with 207.
“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is an incredible honor,” Chapin said. “Basketball has taught me some of life’s most valuable lessons, and I am humbled that my accomplishments have been recognized.”
In addition to her success playing for Honeoye Falls, Chapin graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and health, science, and social policy from Brandeis University in 2010. While at Brandeis, Chapin was an All-American women’s basketball player. She earned her master’s degree in athletic administration from Springfield College in 2013.
Chapin joined the AIC athletic department in 2014 and works directly with all 22 NCAA varsity programs, as well as men’s and women’s rugby, to ensure that the college is in compliance with all NCAA, Northeast-10, and Atlantic Hockey rules, bylaws and regulations. In 2017, she was appointed to a four-year term with the NCAA Division II Management Council.
Kendall Joins MHA as VP of Clinical Operations
Sara Kendall
Sara Kendall

SPRINGFIELD — Sara Kendall, MSW, LICSW, has joined MHA as the organization’s new vice president of Clinical Operations.

Kendall, whose graduate program focused on clinical social work, has been practicing for the better part of two decades. Before joining MHA, she worked for a crisis service provider in Springfield, held positions in quality assurance and management for mental-health organizations, and, most recently, provided quality and practice-management oversight for a clinical organization providing services through the multi-setting Outpatient Behavioral Health Services and Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative.
Among Kendall’s key responsibilities at MHA is the management and oversight of the agency’s new Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic, which opens in early 2019 at 153 Magazine St. in Springfield.
“I am thrilled for the opportunities in front of me,” said Kendall. “My goal is to help MHA deliver evidence-based practices for folks who are experiencing mental-health, substance-use or co-occurring disorders, such as substance-use and mental-health concerns, which is a common experience. Because MHA looks at the global person, we will provide integrated care coordination and case management, not only a one-hour therapy session. As we prepare to open our new Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic, we will continue to grow our staff, adding more well-trained professionals who bring the same spirit that MHA demonstrates with every individual served.”

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