Joe Masciandaro, founder, CEO and president of CarePlus New Jersey since 1978, announced Tuesday that he will retire from the organization after more than four decades of leadership. The CarePlus NJ board of trustees said it selected Brigitte Johnson to serve as the new CEO and president, effective Jan. 2, 2023.
Masciandaro has served at the helm of the health services system that has been at the forefront in the development of many significant treatment models that support an integrated approach to care.
An innovator in integrated primary and behavioral health care for adults and children, Masciandaro was instrumental in emphasizing the four pillars of behavioral health care: primary care, mental health care, substance abuse treatment and access to social support services.
CarePlus NJ is a social utility that provides integrated treatment options, with over 72 programs designed to address each pillar through advocacy, community education and a complete continuum of care.
Masciandaro helped CarePlus achieve designations such as the Community Mental Health Center, the SAMHSA Primary Behavioral Health Care Integration, the Joint Commission Behavioral Health Home certification, and more recently, being designated as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic. Additionally, Masciandaro was instrumental in the creation of Care Plus Bergen, the management entity of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, one of the largest hospitals in New Jersey.
“For 45 years, Joe has been a tireless mental health advocate, a political force and an exceptional leader. The values he instilled when founding CarePlus NJ in 1978 will continue to guide the organization for decades to come,” Jeremy Piccini, chair of the CarePlus NJ board, stated. “We will always be grateful to Joe for serving as a compassionate leader and a true pioneer in integrated behavioral health care, continually finding innovative ways to ensure the most vulnerable populations receive the critical mental health care and support services they need.”
Johnson is well poised to succeed Masciandaro. Since joining the organization as a director in 1998, she has been an invaluable asset to the organization, advancing to the position of vice president in 2001, senior vice president in 2016 and in 2019 to her current role as executive senior vice president of corporate affairs. Over the years, Johnson has provided input and oversight on major operational decisions for CarePlus NJ, including legal, financial, budgetary, employee relations, future expansion, development and compliance. As in-house counsel, she manages all legal affairs of CarePlus NJ.
“Throughout her tenure with our organization, Brigitte has distinguished herself as a leader excelling in a variety of roles and demonstrated her relentless passion and ability to provide strategic counsel in complex situations. With her guidance, we have been able to enhance and expand our delivery of mental health and addiction treatment services and emerge from the pandemic even stronger,” Masciandaro said. “I am pleased with the board’s selection and more than confident that Brigitte will carry on CarePlus NJ’s mission and continue to expand upon the breadth and depth of comprehensive services we offer while remaining true to our roots as a community provider.”
For the past 14 years, Johnson has also served as lead counsel on the legal formation of three nonprofit subsidiary corporate entities of CarePlus NJ — the CarePlus Foundation, CarePlus Workforce Solutions and Paradigm Therapeutic Day School.