OUTREACH BULLETINS: New CEO named at START Treatment and Recovery Centers

September 23, 2022 Report from START
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Jonnel Doris was appointed CEO of Start Treatment & Recovery Centers (START), a leading healthcare organization, offering addiction treatment, behavioral health services.

Including behavioral and biomedical research, which has served New York City’s disenfranchised, economically challenged, and minority communities since 1969. Doris most recently served as Commissioner for the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and subcommittee Co-Chair of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE). He replaces START CEO Dr. Lawrence S. Brown, Jr., who is moving on to other endeavors, after a 10-year tenure.

START, founded 53 years ago by trailblazing researcher and behavioral sciences pioneer Dr. Benny Primm, is dedicated to transforming the perception of addiction and behavioral health disorders by bringing dignity and respect to the lives, families, and communities it serves. The organization has a longstanding history of advocating for communities of color, promoting health equity through its impact on national policy, and providing treatment guidelines for substance use disorders, viral hepatitis, and HIV. To date, START has served over 53,000 patients at multiple centers across New York City.

“I was raised in a community where so many were destroyed by addiction and incarceration. So, it has been an honor to lead an organization that provides services that communities like mine had so desperately needed,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Brown, Jr., former CEO of START.

“But the time has come for me to retire. I am thrilled to pass the baton to Jonnel, an award-winning business leader with a proven history of success in creating positive change and a deep commitment to equity in all forms.”
In his new role, Doris will spearhead an expansion of START with unprecedented investments in mental health services and START’s nationally recognized, cutting-edge behavioral and biomedical research and healthcare services.

“The fight to eradicate disparities and inequity is personal for me. Being raised in a family of social workers who continue to fight to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable communities by addressing the root causes of their suffering, I am proud to lead an organization that provides an integrated, compassionate, evidence-based approach to care,” said Doris. “With the support of our dedicated staff and extensive alliances, we can improve access to much needed healthcare services and transform the perception of addiction and behavioral health disorders.”

“Our extensive research capacity enables us to provide cutting-edge care,” said Dr. Felicia Ivey, Board Chair, and Therapist at Mind-Body and Inner-Self Mental Health Counseling.

“The START Board is a powerhouse of talented, well-connected, and progressive leaders. Our agenda is to end the disparities in healthcare for people of color and with Mr. Doris at the helm we’ll be able to maximize our impact.”

She further emphasized, “As the new Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Doris will carry the torch from the previous Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Lawrence S. Brown, Jr., to lead the organization into a new era. Mr. Doris’s impressive experience in governance and business, where he’s achieved numerous awards and recognition, make him the perfect fit for this position. Mr. Doris is a proven leader with a commitment to equity and providing essential services and opportunities for those in need.”

“The appointment of Jonnel Doris as CEO of START Treatment and Recovery Centers is a game changer. Jonnel’s proven ability to think outside the box and successfully challenge many systemic barriers that impede the progress of individuals and communities made vulnerable will be a win for the agency, and more importantly, individuals and families suffering with addiction,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director of Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies.

I look forward to collaborating with him to address head-on the pervasive health disparities and inequities communities of color across our city experience daily.”

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of our city and while serving in the role of Commissioner for the New York City Department of Small Business Services, Jonnel Doris spearheaded our city’s efforts to ensure equity in the economic recovery and support of businesses in need,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat.

“As the new CEO of START, I am confident Jonnel will bring the same level of commitment and dedication to addressing the rising opioid addiction and other health disparities that have plagued communities of color for far too long and ensure adequate resources, services, and research to help individuals and families feel supported while getting the treatment they need for themselves and their loved ones along the path to recovery.”

“Throughout his career Jonnel has worked successfully with communities across the City and State, building key alliances and collaborations within our communities and beyond. We have no doubt he will do the same here at START,” said New York State Senator Kevin Parker.

“As they move into this next phase, START is in great hands. Jonnel Doris knows how to collaborate and help organizations grow,” said New York State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud, “I look forward to working closely with Jonnel in my role as Chair of the Senate Committee on Social Services and as a member of the Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction & Overdose Prevention.”

“The announcement of Jonnel Doris as the new CEO of START is a win for all New Yorkers. Jonnel will be ready on day one to take the reins and continue the excellent work done by Dr. Benny Primm. I wish you much success,” said New York Assembly Member Inez Dickens.

“START has historically played an integral role in expanding access to care for underserved communities, and its selection of Jonnel Doris as CEO represents an exciting new phase for the organization’s growth,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “As someone who knows, firsthand, how important it is to fight for those who need equitable access to critical services and resources, Jonnel will ensure essential healthcare is provided to those in our communities who need it most. I look forward to partnering with him and START to advance a healthier New York City for all New Yorkers.”

“Jonnel Doris has been committed to equity throughout his career and most notably during his time as Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. The exceptional work being done by the dedicated team at START is needed now more than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the opioid epidemic and the demand for mental health services,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with Jonnel and the START team at the three Manhattan-based centers to ensure quality care is accessible to all.”

“Congratulations to START for selecting Jonnel Doris as their CEO. I look forward to partnering with him and expanding on the great work that START began right here in Brooklyn over 50 years ago,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.

“Jonnel Doris has been a strong advocate for Queens and the entire City of New York, most recently in his role as NYC Department of Small Business Services Commissioner. His partnership has been critical in ensuring small businesses across the borough were able to survive the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and I look forward to his tenure as the CEO of START,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “I am deeply confident in Jonnel’s ability to bring the same level of dedication when it comes to addressing our city’s mental health crisis as he did for our small businesses at the height of the pandemic.”

“Congratulations to my friend, Jonnel Doris on his appointment as the new CEO of START Treatment and Recovery Centers. During my time in the City Council, I had the honor to work closely with Jonnel as the Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. I witnessed his commitment, compassion and dedication to supporting and uplifting our small businesses and merchants in NYC. I know he will bring the same passion and purpose to this new role and lead efforts to help our marginalized and vulnerable New Yorkers facing addictions and drug use. Jonnel’s leadership for such a time as this is critical as we continue to recover from COVID-19, face health disparities and lack of access and opportunities for our clients. As Bronx Borough President, I look forward to building relationships, expanding partnerships and working to invest in programs, resources and creative approaches to bring healthcare, mental health, trauma-informed care and wraparound services to Bronx residents and families in need. Congratulations CEO Jonnel Doris and all the very best in your new role,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson.

“Jonnel’s steadfast leadership during the pandemic and his compassion for the most vulnerable in our society is why he is the best person to continue leading START,” said New York City Council Member and Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala.

“In Jonnel, individuals overcoming addiction and mental health challenges have a dedicated ally to move this work forward.”

“Congratulations to START for selecting Jonnel Doris as their CEO. As someone who knows, firsthand, how important it is to fight for those who need critical services, I know that Jonnel is up to the task. And I look forward to partnering with him and expanding on the work that began right here in Fort Greene over 50 years ago,” said New York City Council Member Crystal Hudson.

“In addition to investing a landmark amount of resources into existing START programs, we will expand innovative initiatives that address the pervasive social determinants of health, such as housing insecurity and unemployment” said Doris.

“Congratulations to Jonnel and START. We share a vision to advance equal opportunities for families and communities often left behind. I couldn’t be more excited to see how Jonnel will bridge the equity gaps within our city and beyond,” said Richard R. Buery, Jr. CEO of Robinhood. I am confident in Jonnel’s commitment and ability to create awe-inspiring change and we look forward to seeing him lead this historic organization building community trust, prioritizing engagement, and collaboration, while increasing access to the vital healthcare services for those in need.”

“START, the people it serves and all New Yorkers are fortunate to have Jonnel’s innovative energy and leadership at this critical time for health equity and wellness,” said Melissa Berman, President and CEO, Rockefeller Partners.

“Congratulations to Jonnel who has dedicated his career to ensuring that everyone has equal access to opportunities. The patients at START will benefit from his focus on eradicating health disparities and creating innovative solutions to the challenges we face today.” said Melvin Galloway, Chief Operating Officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation”.

As Commissioner of SBS Doris oversaw several Industry Partnerships including, The New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (NYACH), a public-private Industry Partnership formed to address the healthcare industry challenges of today and tomorrow. Doris led several focused healthcare initiatives including, the Home Health Aide Training Program in partnership with NYC College of Technology, City College and NYACH to support the City’s long-term care sector during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Doris also launched the Resource Navigator Training to support the City’s Test and Trace Corps and led recruitment and training for the Vaccine For All initiative. This was critical to ensuring all clinical and non-clinical staff were ready to serve with a priority focus on residents in the 33 TRIE neighborhoods.

“Congratulations to Jonnel on his appointment as the new CEO of START. As Commissioner of NYC Small Business Services during the pandemic, he led several innovative healthcare initiatives such as: Resource Navigator Training Program to support the City’s Test and Trace Corps, the Home Health Aide Training Initiative to support the Long-Term Care sector during COVID and led recruitment and training for the Vaccine For All Initiative,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Former NYC Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “Jonnel’s commitment to equity of access to healthcare will ensure that resources are provided to those who need it the most.”

“Congratulations to Jonnel Doris. Organizations like START are important in supplementing addiction treatment offered at NYC hospitals.” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, President & CEO, NYC Health & Hospitals. “We look forward to continuing our partnership and support of START and the communities they serve.”

“Throughout his career Jonnel has demonstrated a deep commitment to equity fighting for individuals who are most vulnerable. Like Jonnel, during the pandemic, START was instrumental in helping New Yorkers get the support they needed,” said K. Torian Easterling, First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with START with Jonnel at the helm increasing access to vital healthcare services for all New Yorkers.”

“I am extraordinarily excited that we have Jonnel at the helm as the new CEO of START. His strong experience and relationships, as well as clear long-standing dedication to the health and well-being of New Yorkers is sure to take the organization to great heights going forward,” stated Jean T. Stennett, Board Vice Chair, and Vice President of Oncology Services at Holy Name Medical Center.

“During the pandemic, we have witnessed firsthand how racial inequity in healthcare can impact communities of color, including small business owners, workers, and immigrants who form the very backbone of our City’s culture and our country’s economy, but we also realize this has also been a contributing factor to the 44% increase in overdose deaths involving opioids. Based on this evidence across the five boroughs, START instituted new telehealth protocols and innovations designed to reach our patients where they are,” said Dr. Joyce G. Gholson, Medical Director and Interim Vice President of Medical and Nursing at START. “Mr. Doris’s vision is to provide equitable access to care by expanding wrap-around services designed to address the historic perception, stigma, and disparities evidenced in communities of color.”

“Under Jonnel’s effective leadership during his tenure with both New York State and the City of New York, disenfranchised business communities of color have received billions of dollars in contracts. As a result, these historically excluded business owners now have the opportunity to purchase homes and acquire better educational opportunities and healthcare options for their respective families. I can think of no other effective leader than Jonnel Doris in leading this much needed and historical institution,” said Michael Garner, Chief Diversity Officer, Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“I commend START on their excellent choice for CEO. Jonnel is certainly up to the challenge of building on the great work of Dr. Primm,” said Aldrin Enis, President, NYC Chapter of One Hundred Black Men. “I look forward to what’s in store for them and our communities. Congratulations Jonnel.”

“Congratulations to Jonnel for assuming this critical role, and to START Treatment & Recovery Centers for its selection of a transformative, mission-driven leader. During our time together in New York City government, I saw Jonnel achieve meaningful results, driving the City to operate more equitably, broaden access to economic opportunity, and better support residents and businesses before and through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. I have no doubt that Jonnel will continue to deliver for New Yorkers in his new capacity at START.” said Matt Klein, Chief Program and Impact Officer at Robin Hood.

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