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Lebanon mental health center’s CEO to step down, search on for replacement

  • West Central Behavioral Health CEO Suellen Griffin is interviewed after she was named to the position in Lebanon, N.H., on Nov. 28, 2007. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, February 11, 2019

LEBANON — West Central Behavioral Health’s CEO on Monday announced plans to retire at the end of the fiscal year in June.

Grantham resident Suellen Griffin, 63, has led the Lebanon-based community mental health center for more than 11 years.

“It has truly been a wonderful experience,” she said in a phone interview on Monday.

Griffin, who came to West Central in 2007 following 31 years in various behavioral health management roles in New York, said now is the right time to leave because she feels confident in the organization’s leadership, both at the board and staff levels.

The board knows what to do to fill her shoes, Griffin said.

“I’m not hiring my replacement, they are,” she said.

There’s no particular reason for her departure and she has no next job lined up. But, in general, Griffin — who earned $154,455 in 2016, according to the organization’s 990 tax filing — said after a decade, it’s time for any organization to have new leadership.

Griffin is “so sharp and just so passionate about the work that West Central does with mental health and substance abuse,” Pete Bleyler, chair of West Central’s board of directors, said on Monday. “I don’t know how she keeps up with everything.”

West Central has offices in Lebanon, Newport, N.H., and Claremont, and Griffin has advocated for increased state support for mental health services, such as through increasing Medicaid rates and increasing student loan repayments for providers.

More than 80 percent of West Central’s revenue is through Medicaid, which can make recruiting and retaining qualified clinicians difficult, Bleyler said. Griffin said she expects her replacement will need to continue to advocate for these same supports.

“Unfortunately, it’s an ongoing process,” she said.

The board has formed a committee to find Griffin’s replacement.

“It’d be great to duplicate her,” Bleyler said.

Valley News Staff Writer Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.