Tom Coderre had been chief of staff for the federal agency
PROVIDENCE — Tom Coderre, senior adviser to Gov. Gina Raimondo on substance-use and mental-health policy since January 2018, has left that position to become the New England administrator for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, where he will oversee efforts to improve behavioral health in the six-state region.
“I’m incredibly excited,” Coderre told The Journal on Friday, at the end of his first week on the job. His last day on the governor’s staff was Nov. 8.
Coderre, 50, a Pawtucket native who has been in recovery from addiction for 16 years, brings a wealth of state and federal experience to his new position. He was chief of staff for SAMHSA from 2014 to 2017, and chief of staff in the office of the Rhode Island Senate president from 2009 to 2015. He also has private-sector experience.
From his new office in Boston, Coderre said his first job as regional administrator will be to listen to the needs of regional SAMHSA staff.
“There are great people doing this work in all six New England states,” he said.
In a farewell email Monday to his State House colleagues, Coderre wrote of his “incredible opportunity working on solutions to the opioid crisis, broader mental health and addiction recovery issues, health-care policy, and so much more…. It was a complete honor to work for Governor Raimondo and my fellow Rhode Islanders.”
In the email, Coderre wrote that now he will “be promoting initiatives that advance behavioral health and engaging target populations as well as developing, supporting and leading collaborative initiatives across [the Department of Health and Human Services] and other federal agencies to assure behavioral health remains a priority. I’m especially excited to be able to focus on mental health and addiction recovery 100% of my time by providing technical assistance, promoting program development, policy innovation, and system transformation.”
Coderre is not the only high-ranking SAMHSA official with Rhode Island roots. Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, the assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, was chief medical officer for the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals before going to Washington.
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