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ACHE NJ 2024 Spring Congress

Behavioral Healthcare


Welcome, Mary Ditri!

Dr. Mary Ditri, Vice President, Community Health, New Jersey Hospital Association, oversees coordination of policy, education and quality improvement initiatives related to mental health/substance misuse, maternal/child, veteran/military, and other systemic efforts aimed at building the bridge between prevention, treatment, and community interventions. Ditri serves as the principal investigator on initiatives related to mental health, substance use disorder and maternal health, and is the project director for the N.J. Perinatal Quality Collaborative. While a part of various state and national boards and committees, she notably serves on the National Quality Forum’s Leadership Consortium and served on its National Quality Partners™ Serious Mental Illness Action Team, has spoken nationally and is co-author of JCR’s “Optimizing Patient Flow: Advanced Strategies for Managing Variability to Enhance Access, Quality, and Safety”. Ditri, a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and N.J. Healthcare Leadership Academy, holds a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration.


Welcome, Patricia Toole!

Patricia (“Trish”) Toole is President and Chief Hospital Executive of Hackensack Meridian Carrier Clinic. Hackensack Meridian Carrier Clinic. Toole most recently served as Vice President of Administrative Services and has been an Officer for the Corporation. She joined the Strategic Planning Department at Carrier Clinic in 1993 after working as an Account Executive in the advertising field. She has oversight for all divisions of the organization including the 297-bed Psychiatric Hospital, 40-bed substance use treatment program at Blake Recovery Center, 93-bed East Mountain Youth Lodge, and the 120 students in the East Mountain School. Toole is also responsible for The Retreat & Recovery At Ramapo Valley, an outpatient substance use disorder treatment center in Mahwah, N.J. Trish received a bachelor’s of science degree from Rider University and a master’s of administrative science degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She is a certified managed care coordinator and holds an employment law certification from Rutgers University. Trish is the past President and Board Chairman of the East Mountain Hospital and is an active member with the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems and American College of Healthcare Executives, in addition to the Healthcare Financial Management Association, New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, and the New Jersey Hospital Association, serving on numerous committees and task forces.


Welcome, Tara Chalakani!

Dr. Tara Chalakani (she/her/ella) is an integrative psychotherapist who is passionate about her work. To help people grow, heal, and overcome obstacles brings her great joy. Her goal is for each client to become the best version of themselves. Dr. Tara's background includes over 30 years in health care with various roles including: Maternal/Child Health, Crisis Response, Inpatient Adult Psychiatric, Community Mental Health, Partial Care, Intensive Outpatient, Behavioral Health Leadership, and Education.  Dr. Tara has undergraduate degrees in Nursing and Psychology, a Masters in Mental Health Counseling, and a Doctoral degree in Psychology. She is also a Reiki Master and Acupressure practitioner.  Dr. Tara has had several years of training in Psychodrama, is a certified Jungian Sand Play therapist, and an EMDR practitioner. She has studied Holistic Health at the Doctoral Level and maintains licensure as Registered Nurse.  Dr. Tara is an appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Medicine at Hackensack Meridian Medical School and an adjunct professor at Kean University’s Nathan Weiss Graduate College. She is a frequent guest speaker and expert on television, radio, and podcasts. Dr. Tara's trauma-informed approach to therapy is warm, gentle, and encouraging. She believes that her clients already possess the capacity to heal themselves, but require the right environment to foster their true potential. Dr. Tara incorporates her comprehensive knowledge and extensive experience to create a sense of holistic wellness for each client. When mind, body and spirit are balanced, only then can we truly be healthy.


Executive Track


Welcome, Kenneth Esser!

Kenneth Esser is a proven leader who has been instrumental in our ability to successfully deliver high-quality care to the communities we serve,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “I am grateful for his continued leadership across the Hackensack Meridian Health network and look forward to his growing impact in New Jersey and the broader health care industry.”

In this new role, Esser will focus on developing strategies to transform the behavioral health CTS to meet industry best practices, improve patient experience and health outcomes, and reduce costs. He will also oversee strategic operations of the CTS and ensure methods align with Hackensack Meridian Health’s overall goals. In addition, he will serve as special advisor to the CEO and will continue to lead the Office of Government Affairs.

Esser joined Hackensack Meridian Health in October 2018 as vice president, Chief of Staff. He was an essential part of Hackensack Meridian Health’s COVID-19 response and recovery, connecting the network to all state and federal officials, securing essential supplies, leading the network’s vaccine rollout and policy development, and providing daily briefings. His work received industry-wide recognition when he was named to Modern Healthcare’s 2020 class of Top 25 Emerging Leaders. Before joining Hackensack Meridian Health, Esser was the manager of Program Growth and Strategy for PSE&G. He also has a long history of public service, starting his career in state government. He most recently served as Chief Energy Advisor to the Governor. He previously held the roles of Policy Advisor for Energy and Economic Growth for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Senior Policy Advisor for Economic Growth for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and Government Relations Specialist for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Rutgers University.


Welcome, Rohit Mahajan!

Rohit Mahajan is the Vice President of Operations at Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center since October 2022. He joined Hackensack Meridian Health in 2019, where he served as the VP of Business Development for the Central and North Region. 

He worked alongside senior executives, physician leaders and potential partners to identify new JV opportunities, expansion of strategic service lines and recruit physicians. In his current role, he is leading a transformational change at HMH Palisades Medical Center that includes renovation and expansion of a new Emergency Department, improving continuity of care through expansion of outpatient services and enhancing patient experience and consumer perception.   

Rohit obtained his MBA from Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, and an M.S. from The Ohio State University. Rohit enjoys the outdoors and is an avid traveler. 


Welcome, Laura Budinick!

Dr Laura Budinick is a dynamic healthcare leader who builds teams and puts into action the behaviors reflecting the mission and vision of company goals. She received her Doctorate in Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Metropolitan Campus, New Jersey where she focused her attention on team functioning and burnout. She is currently the Chief Administrative Officer and at RWJBH ls Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children's Hospital of New Jersey where she is responsible for the optimization of day to day functioning of hospital programing, strategy, and business development. Dr. Budinick places a strong emphasis on community driven service growth, equitable access, and high quality integrated services. Dr Budinick's experience has included clinical and administrative roles with various Public and Private Systems where she has provided direct patient care, consultation and workshops on critical incident debriefing, mental health, and clinical ethics. Additionally, Dr Budinick has extensive experience with strategic planning, contracting, and team development. She is action oriented, solution focused and a transformative leader. Dr Budinick is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). She serves as a Chairwoman on the NJHA Behavioral Health Constituency Group which advocates for patient centered behavioral health services in NJ as well as nationally. She is a member of the NJ Women's Re-entry Services providing a new approach to comprehensive healthcare in all settings. Her goal is to build teams which embody compassion and accountability for patient care outcomes.


Welcome, Tina Bloemer!

Tina Bloemer brings over 15 years of experience in risk and quality management to her role at Englewood Health. Bloemer held various progressive positions at Virtua Health, including corporate director of risk management. Before taking on her role at Englewood Health, she spent five years as the director of patient safety, quality, and risk management at Penn Medicine Princeton Health. As vice president of quality, Bloemer provides executive oversight of quality, risk management, infection prevention, patient relations, patient and family engagement and bloodless medicine and surgery.

A key part of her role is partnering with clinical leaders and administrators to improve and enhance performance, ensure high-quality patient care, and provide superior customer service.








Sustainable Strategies


Welcome, Nikki Sumpter!

Nikki Sumpter is an experienced executive with demonstrated success in developing strategies to unleash the power of people to succeed, communities to thrive and organizations to grow. As Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer for Atlantic

Health System, Ms. Sumpter oversees Human Resources,

Diversity and Inclusion, Organizational Effectiveness, Philanthropy, Environmental Health and Safety, Sustainability, and Marketing and Communications, and the system’s Environmental, Social, & Governance efforts.

Ms. Sumpter has an extensive background in leading enterprise-wide, transformational change to support key strategic initiatives, organizational design, environmental, social and governance initiatives, reputation management, workforce engagement, talent management, and succession planning.

Under her leadership, Atlantic Health System has been named one of Modern Healthcare’s “Best Places to Work,” as well as to the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For” and “Best Workplaces for Women” rankings, is one of Newsweek’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity, and has earned the Practice Greenhealth System for Change and Environmental Excellence awards. Ms. Sumpter’s professional experience in human resources spans more than twenty years. Prior to joining Atlantic Health System, she served as SVP of Human Resources and Learning at JPS Health Network in Fort Worth, Texas, where she led the human resources division, network education and learning, occupational health and wellness, and diversity and inclusion functions. Ms. Sumpter serves on the board of trustees for Saint Elizabeth University and is a board member for Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, and New Jersey Morris-Sussex-Warren Workforce Development Board. She has been recognized among the NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business, Woman of Achievement awardee by the Girls Scouts of Northern New Jersey, as well as a Woman of Achievement honoree by the Tri-County Scholarship Fund. Ms. Sumpter earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a master’s degree in Human Resources Development from Villanova University.


Welcome, Denise King!

Denise T King has been in the Developmental Disabilities field since 1983.  Since that time she has worked in large developmental centers in NJ, PA, Kentucky, California, and Virginia and in group homes in New York. She has been a CEO of three large developmental centers in NJ, KY and VA.  She has helped to increase capacity in the community for people with developmental disabilities and helped begin some of the deinstitutionalization from those large centers for that underserved population.  

Denise has currently been at Matheny Medical and Educational Center for (10) years serving as the Assistant Director of Nursing and then the Chief Nursing Officer since 2015.   She has worked actively with the Developmental Disabilities Nursing Association (DDNA) Northern region to educate nurses in the  I/DD field regarding the healthcare of this special needs population. Denise has her MSA – Health Care Administration, Central Michigan University; BS – Health Care Administration, Stockton State College NJ; and her original Nursing degree was from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing, Philadelphia, PA.


Welcome, Mary Dino!

Mary Dino is the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health. She has system-wide responsibility at RWJBarnabas Health for HR transformation, which includes oversight in the design and implementation of comprehensive strategies to talent management, targeted workforce planning, total rewards, and employee relations strategies to align with business needs and strategies. Additionally Mary is also responsible for the development, implementation, and management of system-wide employee relation strategies that fosters an environment consistent with the mission, values and objectives of RWJBarnabas Health. She drives the employer brand by connecting business performance with human performance and by ensuring leading edge, business driven workforce management practices that sustain RWJBarnabas Health as the employer of choice. Mary has been part of the RWJBH family for over 15 years and holds a JD with a Health Law concentration.


Welcome, Linda McHugh!

Linda A. McHugh, M.T., MBA, is the executive vice president, chief experience and people officer for Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network with more than 35,000 team members. In this role, she is responsible for the strategic management and delivery of all experience, hospitality and people programs, policies, processes and practices in support of the network’s mission, vision and strategic priorities. Prior to joining Hackensack Meridian Health, Linda spent 35 years at the Cleveland Clinic, most

recently as Chief Human Resources Officer spearheading an overarching transformation in the HR shared services function and creating a centralized structure defined by centers of expertise and the implementation of cloud based human capital management technology. She previously served as Executive Director, Office of the CEO and Assistant Secretary, Board of Trustees; as

Division Administrator, Thoracic & Cardiac Surgery Affiliates, Regional Surgery; and as as an Administrator for several departments, including Rehabilitation Medicine & Spine Center, Vascular Surgery & Vascular Medicine and Research Institute Cell Biology & Neuroscience. Linda received her Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology from Bowling Green University, and a Master of Business Administration from the Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management.


Welcome, Mary Cataudella!

Ms. Cataudella serves as the Chief Human Resource Officer for RWJBarnabas Health’s Jersey City Medical Center and the Medical Group.  Previously, she served as Assistant Vice President, Human Resources, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY after beginning her career as the Director of Human Resources, St. Vincent’s Hospital, NYC.   Ms. Cataudella holds an MA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, fellowship in the American College of Healthcare Executives, is a Senior Certified Profession through the Society of Human Resource Management, maintains NJ licensure as an Emergency Medical Technician, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification and a Professional in Human Resources Certification. Ms. Cataudella serves as a Board Member for Hudson County Community College’s Advisory Board, volunteers in her town’s Emergency Medical Services and serves on the RWJBarnabas Health’s Women’s Leadership Alliance. Ms. Cataudella maintains a passion for education and has lectured on a variety of topics at professional conferences and colleges, including ACHE’s annual 2024 Congress on Healthcare Leadership Conference presenting “Transforming the Onboarding Experience of Front-Line Ambulatory Staff Through an Innovative Team Approach”, MGMA’s annual conference presenting “Retraining Your Team Through Onboarding Training Academies”, Hudson County Community College, the 16th Annual Career Day Conference in Union City and the Labor-Management Share Conference in NYC.  Ms. Cataudella was recently honored by District 1199J Collective Bargaining Unit with the David Memorial Scholarship Fund Award for Outstanding Labor Relations.














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