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Heather M. Gates, Top 25 Women in Business 2022 Honoree

Heather Gates Employer: Community Health Resources Title: CEO Check out all of the WIB honorees here!    
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Heather Gates is the president and CEO of Community Health Resources (CHR). Under her leadership, CHR has become the most comprehensive, nonprofit behavioral healthcare agency in Connecticut and was the first agency to meet rigorous federal criteria as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic.

Gates has twice been named a Top Leader through the annual Top Workplace survey and is actively involved with local, state and national advocacy organizations, including the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance and the board of the National Council for Mental Well Being.

Q: What is your biggest professional accomplishment so far?

My biggest accomplishment has been creating a comprehensive system of care for children, families and adults to address mental health and substance-use disorders. I am proud of the services we offer by an amazing team of staff. Leading them through the pandemic is one of my greatest accomplishments.

Q: What is your next big professional goal?

I want CHR to be known as a just and equitable employer and service provider. It is so important to me to lead us through the changes underway in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I). We have a great team working to achieve results in multiple areas, including training, staff support and service delivery.

Q: What has been your biggest professional challenge?

When I think back on my career, my biggest challenge was balancing work and family commitments. When my children were young, the concept of work-life balance did not exist. As a woman CEO, I was often the only woman in many meetings, even in an industry dominated by women.

Q: How has the pandemic forced you to adapt as a leader?

Leading an essential healthcare agency in a pandemic required a shift away from strategic focus to operational focus. My job changed significantly as I became more involved in decision making about operations, a necessity to keep staff and those whom we serve safe. Thank goodness for my team!

Q: What legacy do you want to leave after your career is over?

I want to be remembered as a strong advocate for those who are most in need of behavioral health services. There are still tremendous inequities in the way services are funded.

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