Shawn Hayden named new president and CEO of Gardner-based GAAMHA



Staff Report

Published: 06-14-2024 1:06 PM

Modified: 06-19-2024 3:48 PM

GARDNER – The GAAMHA Board of Directors has named Shawn Hayden as the new president and CEO, following the resignation of longtime CEO Tracy Hutchinson.

Hayden has been with GAAMHA for 13 years, most recently as the organization’s vice president, and is responsible for GAAMHA’s Substance Use Disorder division’s startup and growth over the years.

GAAMHA – formerly known as Gardner Athol Area Mental Health Association – provides services for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, substance use disorder and a fully operational transportation service.

“The opportunity to lead this organization, which I credit with helping to save my life when I was struggling to find my own path to recovery from substance use disorder, is incredibly humbling and an honor far beyond what I would have dared to wish for when I entered GAAMHA’s Pathway House program on June 4, 2009,” said Hayden in a statement. “Going through that program, and the assistance I received from people in this organization who had been with GAAMHA for decades, is what made me want to change careers and enter the nonprofit human services world. I think my experience as both a consumer, and a provider, of GAAMHA’s services has given me an invaluable perspective that I’ve been able to integrate into our programs and service portfolio.”

GAAMHA operates 15 locations from Leominster to Greenfield. The nonprofit opened two new recovery locations this past March and April in Athol. GAAMHA’s outpatient services provide anyone looking for counseling sessions lower to no wait times for appointments, according to the announcement.

“I’m extremely proud to have been part of GAAMHA’s growth in the last decade, and I owe a debt of gratitude to our board of directors, my predecessor Tracy Hutchinson and a remarkable group of dedicated people throughout our organization for their faith and confidence in me to lead a great deal of that expansion,” said Hayden.

“Shawn’s dedication to GAAMHA is unparalleled,” said Board of Directors Chairperson Joe Potvin. “His ability to grow our organization responsibly, advocate for GAAMHA within the community and with elected officials as well as his ability to lead and motivate our employee’s makes him the perfect choice as GAAMHA’s next president and CEO.”

Hayden has officially named Michelle Dunn as GAAMHA’s new vice president. Dunn was most recently the assistant vice president of GAAMHA’s substance use disorders division. Dunn, who has been with GAAMHA for seven years, is also the president and founder of the A.E.D. Foundation, a local nonprofit in Gardner. The foundation provides assistance to people in an effort to remove barriers to long-term recovery.

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“I am grateful and humbled to have been appointed to vice president, giving me the opportunity to continue developing and expanding GAAMHA’s programs alongside a devoted team of like-minded individuals,” said Dunn. “My approach will be to continue leading with humility, integrity, a team focus, and recognizing that in order to be the best we remember that everyone needs community, and our community needs everyone.”