HCN News & Notes

Tania Barber to Receive 2023 Pynchon Medal

SPRINGFIELD — The Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts’ trustees of the Order of William Pynchon announced Tania Barber, president and CEO of Caring Health Center, as this year’s Pynchon Medal recipient. She will receive the award at an event at Springfield Technical Community College on Monday, Nov. 13.

Brenda McGiverin, chairperson of the Pynchon trustees, noted that “this year’s recipient embodies what this award is about: a commitment to public service and improving the lives of everyone in our region.”

Caring Health Center (CHC) is a Springfield-based care provider of affordable and equitable healthcare services. Barber began her career with CHC as a part-time switchboard operator in 1996. Through regular promotions during her 24-year tenure, she rose to become the organization’s leader in 2013.

Even in a position of executive leadership, Barber retained her connection to the organization’s frontline staff and a commitment to CHC’s on-the-ground mission. “I realized I could have a greater impact in an executive management role,” she said. “It was a chance to make positive changes to the issues I saw firsthand.”

As a servant leader, Barber guided CHC to dramatically increase the number of patients served, tripled its staff level, and introduced many new services, including substance-use treatment and behavioral health. In addition to enhancing the organization’s service offerings, she expanded CHC’s reach with an expansion to three facilities, as well as the addition of mobile services and pharmacy delivery for those who are homebound or experiencing mobility issues.

Following devastating damage to the organization’s flagship facility due to the 2011 tornado, she oversaw an $18 million construction project to restore and expand CHC’s reach in the community. She also enhanced the delivery of services for the area’s refugee population; as a result, CHC is now the Commonwealth’s number-one provider of refugee and immigrant patients outside of Boston.

Barber says her lived experience is responsible for her becoming the empathic and informed healthcare provider she is today. As the daughter of a young single mother, she sees herself in many of the women CHC serves.

Her belief in empowering women through education led her to establish the Tania M. Barber Learning Institute in 2023. Students of the institute will earn a salary as they receive training for careers in the healthcare field. In addition to providing a talent pipeline for an industry in dire need of trained workers, it will provide students with a pathway to well-paying jobs that also benefit the community.

In addition to leading CHC, Barber is the founder and pastor of Living Water Global Ministries, a non-denominational Christian church; EST.HER, a leadership consulting firm; and Daughters of Shared Vision, a faith-based counseling service for women. She has also served on a variety of local and regional boards, including the Springfield Technical Community College science degree program advisory board, Health New England, Florence Bank, and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.