MHNE 2024 Leadership Awards Reception
About the EventSponsors2024 Event Photos2024 Event JournalMeet the HonoreesMHNE Board of Directors

MHNE 2024 Leadership Awards Reception Details

View the MHNE 25th Anniversary Retrospective Video

View the Leadership Awards Presentation

View the 2024 Event Journal

View the 2024 Event Photos

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Purpose: To celebrate and bring awareness to exceptional leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of individuals and their families in the autism and behavioral health communities.

Attendance: 150 guests

Typical Guests: Attendees include influential leaders and decision-makers from prominent healthcare providers, autism and behavioral health treatment and support agencies, nonprofit community organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies. Individuals/consumers and their family members also attend.

Event Format: The evening begins with a networking wine bar reception with live jazz music and buffet followed by Awards Presentation Program. All seating is assigned and tables of 10 are reserved.

Virtual Event Journal: Color advertisements are purchased in celebration of the honorees by Board Members, family members, colleagues, and event sponsors.

View the 2023 Event Photos

View the 2023 Event Journal

Proceeds From This Event will go towards expanding and developing the nonprofit educational mission of Autism Spectrum News and Behavioral Health News. With these publications, Mental Health News Education aims to reduce stigma, promote awareness, and disseminate evidence-based information that serves to improve the lives of individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders, and autism spectrum disorders and support their families and the professional communities that serves them.

View the Complete History of MHNE Event Honorees Since 2013

For more information, contact David Minot, Executive Director, at (978) 733-4481 or

2024 Event Sponsors




Relias Unique People Services


Health Management Associates


The Alliance for Rights and Recovery, formerly the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) Baltic Street Wellness Solutions Comunilife
Healthfirst The Institute for Community Living (ICL) Outreach
Quent Capital Samaritan Daytop Village ShufroRose


Irwin Siegel Agency Mental Health Association of Nassau County Moritt Hock & Hamroff LLP
People USA Phoenix House New York Savills


Birch Family Services InUnity Alliance Search for Change


For more information, contact David Minot, Executive Director, at (978) 733-4481 or

Meet Our 2024 Honorees!

Bruce E. Feig Senior Healthcare Consultant Sachs Policy Group Healthcare Leadership Award
Bruce E. Feig
Senior Healthcare Consultant
Sachs Policy Group
Healthcare Leadership Award

Bruce E. Feig‘s career is a combination of dedication and transformative leadership in the healthcare and financial sectors, spanning an impressive 45 years. His journey began with his spark of passion as an intern, where he played a pivotal role in the enactment of the Willowbrook Consent Decree, setting the stage for a lifelong commitment to advocacy and support for individuals with disabilities and behavioral health challenges.

From there he went on to become a New York State budget examiner, a Program Associate in the Executive Chamber, a Deputy Commissioner in what is now the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, and the Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health – a role he filled twice.

His other public sector experience included being the Chief Financial Officer for the New York City Department of Education and the First Deputy Comptroller for the New York State Office of the State Comptroller. Even as Bruce’s responsibilities and positions have changed over the years, he has always remained approachable to all and is a dedicated mentor to young people in the field.

His private sector experience included being the CFO of a Federally Qualified Health Center, Director of Finance for a mid-size HMO, and Vice President of Primary Care for a specialty organization serving large corporations.

Beyond the titles and accolades, Bruce is a beacon of hope and a catalyst for change. He has the unique ability to engage with individuals across all levels, decipher complex issues, and navigate through bureaucratic mazes. His clarity of thought and precision in action have not only resolved pressing issues but have also illuminated the path for countless individuals and organizations.

Currently Bruce is a senior consultant with Sachs Policy Group where he tries to put his experience to work supporting organizations that are mission driven to provide better access to care for vulnerable populations. Bruce E. Feig is not just a professional in his field; he is an icon whose legacy is etched in the countless lives he has touched and the many changes he has spearheaded in the healthcare landscape.

Rita M. Gardner, MPH, LABA, BCBA, CDE® President and CEO Melmark Excellence in Autism Award
Rita M. Gardner, MPH, LABA, BCBA
President and CEO
Excellence in Autism Award

Rita M. Gardner is the President and CEO of Melmark and leads operations of Melmark service divisions in New England, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas. Prior to her appointment as President and CEO in 2015, Ms. Gardner served as Executive Director of Melmark New England, which she co-founded in 1998. She also founded Melmark Carolinas in 2018 and a second New England day school in 2022.

She is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst®, a trained public health professional, and has devoted over 40 years of her professional career to the field of community-based services for children and adults with the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/A), acquired brain injuries, severe challenging behaviors, and medical fragility.

Ms. Gardner is an accomplished and persistent legislative advocate. She is committed to every child receiving their free and appropriate education, as a civil right. She is a founding Board Member of the National Council of Autism Providers and is currently serving as Vice Chair. She leads advocacy efforts for staff who serve the ID/A and ASD communities at the local, state, and federal level through her Board work at multiple trade associations. She advocates for professional behavior analysts, being one of the citizen writers of the Massachusetts Behavior Analyst licensing legislation. She is the past President of the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools. Ms. Gardner also serves on the Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability Board.

Ms. Gardner has co-authored numerous books, written book chapters and peer-reviewed articles for professional journals, and made a number of presentations.

Ms. Gardner earned her Master of Public Health degree from Boston University’s School of Public Health in the School of Medicine, majoring in Behavioral Sciences and Health Services Administration.

Dr. Rosa M. Gil, President Emeritus, Comunilife, Inc., Award Title TBD
Dr. Rosa M. Gil
President Emeritus
Comunilife, Inc
Diversity and Community Health Leadership Award

Dr. Rosa M. Gil, Comunilife’s Founder, President and CEO, has had a distinguished career in New York City’s health, mental health, higher education, social service and supportive housing development sectors.  At Comunilife, she has developed over 3,000 units of affordable and supportive housing for the City’s hardest to reach residents.  Under her leadership, Comunilife developed Life is Precious™, a nationally recognized equity mental health program for Latina teens at risk of suicide and opened the Premier Medical Respite Program a model adopted by NYSDOH.

Dr. Gil has been appointed to numerous Federal, State and City commissions and boards including Federal Reserve Bank of New York Board of Directors (Former Chair), NYS Suicide Prevention Council, Board of Health (NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene), The Commission of Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century (The Berger Commission).  Dr. Gil is a member of President Carter Mental Health Task Force and the Board of Trustees of EmblemHealth.

In addition to her tenure at Comunilife, Dr. Gil was, among many positions, the Chairperson of the Board of Directors, NYC Health and Hospital Corporation, Health Policy Advisor to the Mayor, Executive Director of Woodhull Medical Center and Metropolitan Hospital, Executive Deputy Commissioner for Families and Children Services at the NYC Human Resources Administration and the University Dean for Health Sciences at CUNY. She is one of the founders of the Urban Institute for Behavioral Health of New York City, Latino Commission on AIDS, the Association of Hispanic Mental Health Professionals and 100 Hispanic Women.

Dr. Gil has published numerous articles on mental health, ethnicity, and child welfare and gender issues.  She is the co-author of the “Maria Paradox,” the first authoritative book on self-esteem and Hispanic women.

Harvey Rosenthal, Chief Executive Officer, The Alliance for Rights and Recovery (Formerly NYAPRS), Lifetime Achievement Award
Harvey Rosenthal
Chief Executive Officer
The Alliance for Rights and Recovery
(Formerly NYAPRS)
Lifetime Achievement Award

Harvey Rosenthal has over 48 years of experience working to promote public mental health policies and practices that advance the dignity, rights, recovery, and full community inclusion of people with major mental health, addiction, and trauma-related challenges in New York and nationally.

He has served as CEO of the Alliance for Rights and Recovery (formerly the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services or NYAPRS) since 1993. Under his leadership, the Alliance’s advocacy, training, technical assistance, and innovative peer models have helped to transform state and national mental health policies and service systems, increase access to community-based peer supports, rehabilitation, employment services, and housing and advance numerous recovery and criminal justice related-mental health reforms.

He has also worked to fight stigma, discrimination, and human rights violations and advance informed choice protections, self-determination, social justice, and racial equity.

Harvey’s commitment to our community is very personal, dating back to a psychiatric hospitalization at age 19.

Relias Corporate Leadership Award
Corporate Leadership Award

Relias provides lifelong workforce enablement solutions for more than 11,000 healthcare and human services organizations and 4.5 million caregivers to drive measurable outcomes. Customers use Relias solutions to attract and retain talent, elevate care quality, and reduce risk with our technology, services, community, and expertise. The Relias family of brands –, Wound Care Education Institute, Relias Academy, FreeCME, and Relias Media – serves the entire healthcare community and shares a common goal of improving the lives of the most vulnerable members of society and those who care for them.

Mental Health News Education, Publisher of Autism Spectrum News and Behavioral Health News - Celebrating 25 Years 1999 - 2024

Board of Directors


Rachel A. Fernbach, Esq, Executive Director and General Counsel
New York State Psychiatric Association


Yvette Brissett-André, MPA, Executive Director and CEO
Unique People Services


Peter D. Beitchman, DSW, LMSW, Principal
Behavioral Health Consultation


Keri R. Primack, CFP, Managing Director, Senior Private Client Advisor
Quent Capital, LLC

Members of The Board

Anita Appel, LCSW, Senior Health Care Consultant
Sachs Policy Group

Mary Brite, LCSW, CASAC, Chief Compliance Officer

Jonathan P. Edwards, PhD, LCSW, ACSW, Program Consultant
NY City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Ann-Marie K. Foster, MPA, FACHE, President and CEO
Phoenix House New York

Debbie Pantin, MSW, MS-HCM, President and CEO

Barry B. Perlman, MD, Past President
New York State Psychiatric Association

Jorge R. Petit, MD, Founder/CEO
Quality Healthcare Solutions, LLC

Joshua Rubin, MPP, Principal
Health Management Associates

Jarod Stern, Senior Managing Director

Kimberly Williams, MSSW
Mental Health Consultant

Founding Chairman

Alan B. Siskind, PhD, LCSW

Executive Staff

Ira H. Minot, LMSW, Founder and Publisher, Behavioral Health News

David Minot, Executive Director and Publisher, Autism Spectrum News