Monday Morning Meet Your Leaders – Tara Chalakani

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Tara Chalakani, LPC, NCC, ACS, RN
Vice President
Mental Health Services for Youth and Families
Preferred Behavioral Health Group

  1. What is one of the most important qualities of a great leader?

Great leaders have great responsibilities to care for those in their charge. The ability to connect with people and convey a sincere message that they matter is paramount. Very often, front line staff feel very disconnected from the leaders in their organization. It is so important that they know they are valued and that no role is insignificant. Successful organizations have many moving parts.

  1. How does your organization take our community to the next level?

Preferred Behavioral Health Group (PBHG) is very attuned to the needs of the community. We pay attention to where there are gaps in services. For instance, in 2015 there was a significant need for outpatient services for children, especially for children with Medicaid. It was from that need that the Preferred Center for Children & Families (PCCF) was born and now provides mental health services for close to 1,000 children ages 4-18.

In addition, we are well aware that 90% of individuals with a diagnosed mental illness have experienced a traumatic event. Also, 7 out of every 10 people have experienced a trauma in their lifetime. In 2019, PBHG has made an organizational wide implementation of Trauma-Informed Care (TIC). This framework approaches all staff and clients from a perspective of  “what’s happened to you?” versus “what’s wrong with you?”  It’s softer and gentler and creates a safe space where everyone feels welcome and understood.

  1. What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?

I am very mindful of self-care because of the work I do. I have been in a doctoral program year round since 2017 so my spare time is really limited. However, I do make the most of my free time by spending it with my husband and children. We love to eat out, go to concerts, see local theatre productions, and spend time outdoors. We make sure to do something fun every weekend. 😊 I also take two vacations per year because it is really important to completely disconnect from technology.

  1. What is your favorite food/recipe and why? 

I love to eat so this is a tough one, but I would have to say beans and rice. We eat rice in my household almost every day. To me, beans and rice is comfort food. It feels like home and a warm hug. My husband actually makes them better than me now, but don’t tell him I said so. 😉

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