Chacku Mathai: From Patient to President/CEO of the MHA of Rochester

NYAPRS Note: Chacku Mathai’s inspiring life has taken him through an extraordinary recovery journey to a youth and adult leader and budding rehabilitation practitioner in his home community of Rochester to overseeing training and peer service programs and ultimately serving as NYAPRS Deputy Director to his nationally acclaimed work as director of the SAMHSA funded Star Center. 
NYAPRS is very pleased and proud to help announce that Chacku had accepted the post of the new President and CEO of the Mental Health Association of Rochester, succeeding longtime dedicated recovery proponent Pat Woods. 
We all know that Chacku will immediately be a strong force for recovery, rehabilitation, rights, community inclusion and cultural competence in New York and we look forward to his presentation on a Health Equity panel at NYAPRS April 19-20 Executive Seminar (see our website for details). 
Welcome home Chacku!


For Immediate Release
Contact: MHA Board Chair, Julie Jordan DiPalma, 585-673-3053

From Patient to President and CEO

Chacku Mathai, a person with a history of mental illness and addiction is the next President and CEO of the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Rochester and Monroe County, effective March 2, 2018.  Informed by personal experiences in Rochester, Mathai, an Indian-American, born in Kuwait, brings over 30 years of experience addressing mental health, addiction and minority health issues back to Rochester and Monroe County. 

Patricia Woods, MHA’s current President and CEO is retiring after dedicating 34 years to the agency.  Ms. Woods said, “I have known Chacku for 20 + years; originally meeting him when he worked as a direct service provider in a local mental health agency.  I was immediately impressed with his passion for and his ability to advocate for a mental health system where recipients of services are fully participating partners in the care they receive.  I have watched him take on roles at the state and federal levels and am honored that he has chosen to bring his talents back to Rochester as my successor at the Mental Health Association.”      

Chacku Mathai credits Pat Woods and the MHA with his family's, and Rochester’s, first steps towards empowerment, wellness and recovery in mental health. “There is an intersectionality to the human experience that Pat understood.” Mathai said. “She started this organization on the principle of wellness, rather than illness. She saw us as people, rather than as patients. We will honor her legacy and build on the foundation of those principles."

Current MHA Board Chair, Julie DiPalma, says that, “MHA’s choice to bring home Chacku Mathai’s national voice of the mental health movement represents our continued commitment to the mission of breaking down stigma and building partnerships that sharpen our focus on lasting mental wellness and public health.”  

Chacku Mathai will be leaving his position as the Director of the NAMI STAR Center based at the headquarters of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Arlington, Virginia.  

Chacku’s new role with MHA is being warmly received by many on the regional and national stage. NAMI’s CEO, Mary Giliberti, introduces Chacku best when she says, “Chacku brings his personal and professional experience to his transformative work empowering change in organizations and people. He is always collaborating to strengthen the overall movement and I look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role.” 

NYAPRS Executive Director, Harvey Rosenthal says, “Over the years, Chacku has built on his personal and professional experience to become an extraordinary leader whose dedication, expertise and accomplishments have long provided an inspiration and an example to thousands here in New York and nationally.”

Rochester is fortunate to have someone of Chacku's ability to engage and lead the mental health world towards large systems transformation.

Chacku Mathai welcomes our community to get involved with him and the MHA of Rochester right away with two refrains of our cross-disability and public health movements, "Nothing About Us Without Us!" and "Everyone's In, No One's Out".