National guest speaker featured at meeting where agency announces new board, recognizes community partners, and long-serving staff helping to create healthy communities in northeastern Connecticut

United Services, Inc., Connecticut’s largest private, nonprofit behavioral health center celebrated its 50th Anniversary Thursday with its Annual Dinner held at Wrights Mill Farm in Canterbury.

The event featured a keynote address from A. Kathryn Power, Regional Administrator, Region One for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an operating division of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). United Services also inducted two new board members and recognized the contributions of its community partners and long-serving staff at the annual celebration.

Power, who works at the regional level to fulfill the SAMHSA’s mission of reducing the impact of mental illness and substance abuse on America’s communities, spoke to the nearly 100 people in attendance about the “next evolution of care.”

“We know that individual choice and the pursuit of meaningful lives in integrated settings are the basis for the future,” Power said. “The goal of community mental health providers should be to assist the individual in the attainment of personal lifetime goals.”

United Services President/CEO Diane L. Manning reflected on United Services past, present and future during the celebration. Manning reminded the audience that United Services is one of the nation’s inaugural Community Behavioral Health Centers, founded in 1964 through legislation championed by President John F. Kennedy.

“Despite how far we have come, each of us must also accept that the goals set by the President half a century ago are far from being achieved. Many individuals still do not have access to the services that would support them for optimal living in the community,” Manning said. “Safe and supportive housing, jobs and social lives are just as important as clinical treatment in the whole person achieving recovery.  United Services provides those services, and advocates for more to be available so that everyone can benefit.”

United Services outpatient mental health caseload is now 248 percent of what it was in 2007, yet the agency’s resources to meet this rising demand remain near the level of seven years ago, Manning said.

United Services elected new board leadership for the 2014-15 year as well as two new members Thursday.

United Services’ new Board leadership includes Chairman Jeff Kramer of Storrs, who is director of the Center for Healthcare & Insurance Studies at the University of Connecticut’s School of Business. James Clark of Canterbury, a former executive director of community mental health centers in Connecticut and Massachusetts, was elected as treasurer.  Mary Bromm of Ashford, a community development administrator for the Town of Killingly, was elected as secretary.

New members elected to the United Services Board of Directors were Anne Konczakowski of Windham, a Connecticut Department of Labor Adjudications Specialist, and Maximo Garcia of Willimantic, owner of U Drive 2 Driving School in Willimantic..

Returning Board members include immediate past president Attorney Sheldon Mossberg of Willimantic; Robert Leonard of Dayville; Linda Loretz of Ellington; Dr. John Duers of Chaplin; Barbara Presson of Pomfret; Romeo Blackmar of Pomfret; Jeanne Nuhfer of Columbia, Terri Pearsall of Putnam; Cheryl Lewis of Putnam; Michael Turano of Canterbury; and John Deary of Pomfret.

United Services also honored retiring board member Dr. Ann Semolic, who served on the board from 2008 to 2014.

In addition to the new and returning Board members, United Services President and CEO Diane Manning recognized three community partners whose support over the previous year made a particularly large impact in the programs United Services provides to northeast Connecticut.

Among those honored were:

  • Dr. Roland Lupien of Pomfret, a longtime supporter of United Services;
  • Maggie Martin of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Social Work program, who developed the Bachelors of Social Work Program at ECSU and has worked closely with United Services for the last 15 years; and
  • Chief Mark Palmer and Sgt. Michael McDonagh of the Coventry Police Department, who partnered with United Services to institute the Lethality Assessment Program, a national recognized risk assessment protocol to better serve victims of domestic violence in the greatest Danger.

United Services staff were honored for their long-standing service to the organization and the residents of Connecticut’s “Quiet Corner.”

Celebrating 25 years were Kathryn Mikel, a case manager, Elba Sostre, a bilingual senior case manager, and Aimee Terwilliger, a Positive Parenting Program counselor.

Dr. Ven Thangada, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, marked 20 years with the agency.

Intensive Services Division Director Heather Victoria, Clinical Coordinator for the Client Access Team Jim Garland, Human Resources Recruitment Manager Talia Lyon and Controller Barbie Soler all celebrated 15 years. The agency also honored 18 employees who have been with the agency for 5 and 10 years.