Community Leadership Institute Project Takes Form as a Mental Health Peer Support Group

Starting June 14th a new mental health peer support group will be coming to North Central Massachusetts at UMass Memorial – HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster. This program grew from the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce’s Community Leadership Institute which grooms tomorrow’s business leaders for the region.

This peer support group was the project of the “Crusaders for Healthier Minds” team which is made up of: Tara DeBoer, HSA Coordinator, Avidia Bank; Stefan Dodd, Manager, OneCard Operations, Fitchburg State University; Amanda Landry, Community Outreach Specialist, UMass Memorial HealthAlliance Hospital; Jennifer Leger, VP, Cash Management Operations Manager, Fidelity Bank; and Heather Storme, Assistant Vice President, Enterprise Bank.

“The Community Leadership Institute is a program that we take a lot of pride in” said Roy Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. “These ‘students’ put in a lot of work and we are thankful for the chance to help these future business leaders of North Central Massachusetts continue their development and to see unique programs like this peer support group come to fruition.”

This team’s objective was to educate others and offer guidance and resources for healthier minds in our surrounding communities. The team brainstormed low cost solutions to help those suffering from mental health concerns and to curb the stigma surrounding the topic. The team’s passion on the topic lead them to the creation of this peer support group which is now supported by a number of entities involved in addition to our team employers (Michael’s Run, The SHINE Initiative, Seven Hills and Parent/Professional Advocacy League) which will undoubtedly ensure its longevity.

The Community Leadership Institute (CLI) is an exclusive program geared toward the up and coming community leader. Students, nominated by their employer, join the program for 9 months with monthly day long seminars about various parts of the region. Participants in the CLI will meet with state representatives, business leaders, CEO’s, boards of directors and more to learn about healthcare, legislation, arts, culture, non-profit governance and more.

“We are all discovering our different leadership styles as we continue down this exciting path” said Amanda Landry, Community Outreach Specialist at UMass Memorial – HealthAlliance. “We have seen some efforts turn out differently than we initially thought, but seeing the fruits of our labor come to reality in this support group is absolutely fantastic!”

To learn more about Community Leadership Institute or to nominate an employee contact the chamber 978.353.7600 x235, by email or by visiting