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Community Healthlink Leadership Transition of Tamara Lundi: A Message from Dr. Eric Dickson

As of May 5, Tamara Lundi is transitioning out of her role as President of Community Healthlink (CHL), which is the mental health and addiction recovery agency affiliated with UMass Memorial Health. Gordon Benson, Vice President for Adult Outpatient Services at CHL, will serve as Interim President while we conduct a search for a  permanent person for this important system role.

Tamara has been President of CHL since August of 2020 and was Interim President since January 2020. In a short amount of time, Tamara has led CHL through tremendous growth and transformation, culminating in recent successes, such as CHL’s selection to become one of the state’s network of 26 Community Behavioral Health Centers  (CBHCs), and implementation of CHL’s Thrive initiative to redesign and rejuvenate the organization’s operations and care model. 

“Under Tamara’s leadership, the importance of addressing behavioral health and substance use has been elevated to a whole new level, resulting in CHL’s reputation also being lifted up like we’ve never seen before,” said John Shea, Chair, Board of Trustees for CHL. “We will always be grateful to Tamara for her incredible devotion to CHL, to  the clients they serve and to CHL caregivers.”

Tamara has been an important part of UMass Memorial Health since 2013 – first serving as an administrative fellow for the system before she started at CHL in 2014, serving as Chief of Staff for CHL’s President. She served in that role for four years before being promoted to CHL’s Executive Vice President. In that capacity, she led the development and supervision of CHL’s project management office; provided leadership and implementation support for key organizational initiatives; and worked closely with CHL’s President to provide strategic direction for the organization. Tamara also served as Interim Vice President for a variety of CHL divisions, which helped to ensure smooth transitions and successfully led CHL's agency-wide accreditation and provided leadership support in improving business processes and financial outcomes. 

In January of 2020 when the President of CHL left the position, it was without question that Tamara was the right person to take the leadership reins. In her first few months as Interim President, Tamara implemented plans to increase revenue, decrease losses, and improve efficiency amounting to $2.2 million and led efforts to successfully reverse lost claims that amounted to $1 million – all of which significantly improved CHL’s bottom line. During the first few months of the pandemic, Tamara led the CHL team to act swiftly to continue to serve their clients while keeping them safe from the spread of the virus, quickly implementing a telehealth platform for outpatient clients and setting up screening tents for those who needed to come on-site. 

In 2020, Tamara was selected as a recipient of Worcester Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business award, which didn’t surprise many of us who know her for her unique blend of business leadership, clinical acumen and an orientation toward compassion, empathy and service to others. In 2022, Tamara was appointed to 1 of the 9 seats on the Massachusetts Board of Registration for Social Work. In 2023, Governor Healey appointed Tamara to the Massachusetts 988 Commission to help provide ongoing strategic oversight and guidance in all matters regarding 988 (a suicide and crisis hotline) services in the Commonwealth. 

Under her leadership, Tamara led the development of the agency’s first centralized “Front Door” model, called the Access Division. The purpose of this model redesign was to ensure that all 60+ agency programs were easily accessible by clients and families. This organizational restructure works to make sure that the community has the access to the right services in a timely manner and that all behavioral health services' entry points are centralized for ease of access. Also under Tamara’s leadership, the agency implemented its first agency-wide online training platform to enhance staff development; obtained the City of Worcester’s Crisis Co-Response planning grant; and received the Youth Community Crisis Stabilization (YCCS) designation for children and adolescents. 

“Without a doubt, Community Healthlink is a better place because of Tamara’s remarkable leadership and dedication, but more importantly, the people of this region who suffer from substance use disorders and mental health issues have been given a chance they otherwise wouldn’t have had because of her,” said Eric Dickson, MD, President and CEO, UMass Memorial Health. “For that kind of profound, selfless commitment, we at UMass Memorial Health are deeply indebted to Tamara.”