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New Behaviorial Health Network VP brings decades of experience

  • Rose Evans, Vice President of Operations at Behavioral Health Network Inc, on Federal Street in Greenfield. July 19, 2017. Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Rose Evans, Vice President of Operations at Behavioral Health Network Inc, on Federal Street in Greenfield. July 19, 2017. Paul Franz—Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

GREENFIELD — As usual, a group of local experts and policy wonks gathered in a small room on Main Street to discuss this month’s agenda on treatment and recovery. And as usual, at the start of the monthly meeting for the Opioid Task Force, the familiar faces introduced themselves to their peers. A couple of new people briefly explained who they were.

Then came Rose Evans.

As the new vice president of operations for the Behavioral Health Network, which runs the Franklin Recovery Center on Federal Street, Evans thanked the group for having her at the meeting. She then rattled off more than three decades of experience in social services, including most recently holding the position of deputy undersecretary for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, which meant she was one of the key players in Boston running the state’s response to its issues with homelessness.

The Opioid Task Force’s coordinator Debra McLaughlin thanked her for joining them and the meeting proceeded. Through most of it, Evans could be seen leaning back, taking in what the issues are at their most local level. And from time to time, she would chime in, about trying to talk to this person in Springfield or coordinating with that person in Boston.

Evans might be new to the job at BHN, replacing Candy Darcy, who is retiring, but she is not particularly new to the area.

A Belchertown resident, Evans worked 28 years at the Center for Health and Development in Springfield, serving as its children and families division program director. In the late 1980s, she lived in Greenfield and now she we will split her time between Greenfield and Springfield, transitioning from housing-centric work to a job tackling the opioid epidemic.

Evans said although she enjoyed her work with both the Deval Patrick and Charlie Baker administrations, she is happy to come back west.

“It’s a good match for me ... It’s a great match,” Evans said. “I’m very excited to be with BHN, to be working in this space as it relates to the opioid crisis, contemplating innovative treatment approaches.”

Evans already has existing relationships with several of the social service groups in the county, including Clare Higgins, the director of Community Action.

“I’m thrilled,” Higgins said about the hiring of Evans. “She’s been a great advocate for the needs of the four western counties.”

Higgins called her a “smart, compassionate advocate for people really living on the edge and especially helpful to us in this region.”

Evans said she is looking forward to working with Dr. Ruth Potee, who works both on the task force and with the Franklin Recovery Center, which opened about a year ago.

“She is experienced, unflappable, and compassionate toward our clients,” Potee said about Evans. “She is a great addition to lead the team at the Franklin Recovery Center.”

Personal journey

Evans said she believes some of her assets to be her knowledge of handling big budgets and overseeing operations, while understanding how housing issues can affect the issues surrounding the opioid epidemic.

“It’s braiding those two things together,” Evans said. “Every conversation that we have, if we’re not talking about housing and homelessness and housing stability or instability, then we’re missing something. If we’re not talking about economic self-sufficiency or the economics of one’s life, we’re missing an opportunity toward stabilization.”

Evans plans to help the Franklin Recovery Center continue to develop after its first year. The center, based at the old Lunt Silversmith facility, includes both single-day intakes for recovery and has a two-week program in its upstairs facilities, the Northern Hope Center. Plans are still being worked out with the town to get the final approval for a long-term, six-month recovery program.

Now out of Boston and closer to home, Evans hopes her expertise will help her and the community continue to solve the opioid epidemic.

“Over my 30 some odd years of experience, there hasn’t been a day when I have lost my passion and commitment for this work and my unyielding commitment to bring my best to the work I do everyday,” Evans said. “That’s what I’ve committed to BHN, my job, the individuals, the staff, the community, the constituents that I work with.”

Despite all the years of experience, Evans is still challenged to recall a moment that set her off into her long career in social services. There wasn’t necessarily that time in college where she thought, “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life” or that single experience she had growing up that threw her into this line of work.

She paused, thinking, and asked out loud — mostly to herself, “What would be a good way to describe it?”

“I think it just was part of how I, the fabric of my family — it’s kind of weak, it’s not exactly a compelling story,” Evans said. “It’s just how we took care of our neighbors. It’s how we assisted our friends, our community, as a family — social justice.”

You can reach
Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264