Joe Masciandaro, Brigitte Johnson
New Hire/Promotion

CarePlus NJ Founder to Retire, Next Generation of Leadership Announced

Care Plus NJ, Inc., the Paramus-based pioneer in integrated primary and behavioral health services for adults and children, has announced that Joe Masciandaro, founder, president and CEO of CarePlus NJ since 1978, will retire from the organization. After a rigorous national search, the CarePlus NJ Board of Trustees has selected Brigitte Johnson, Esq. to serve as the new president/CEO, effective Jan. 2.

For more than four decades, Masciandaro has served at the helm of CarePlus NJ, successfully leading a comprehensive community mental healthcare system in northern New Jersey as an innovator in integrated primary and behavioral health care for adults and children. Emphasizing the four pillars of behavioral healthcare: primary care, mental health care, substance abuse treatment and access to social support services, CarePlus NJ is a social utility that provides integrated treatment options, with over 72 programs designed to address each pillar through advocacy, community education and a complete continuum of care.

Under Masciandaro’s leadership, CarePlus NJ has been at the forefront in the development of many significant treatment models that support an integrated approach to care. Most notably, Masciandaro helped CarePlus achieve designations such as the Community Mental Health Center (CMHC), the SAMHSA Primary Behavioral Health Care Integration, the Joint Commission Behavioral Health Home certification, and more recently, being designated as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC). Additionally, Masciandaro was instrumental in the creation of Care Plus Bergen, the management entity of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, one of the largest hospitals in New Jersey.

In acknowledgment of Joe’s leadership, Jeremy Piccini, Esq., chair of the Care Plus NJ Board of Trustees stated, “For 45 years, Joe has been a tireless mental health advocate, a political force and an exceptional leader. The values he instilled when founding CarePlus NJ in 1978 will continue to guide the organization for decades to come. We will always be grateful to Joe for serving as a compassionate leader and a true pioneer in integrated behavioral health care, continually finding innovative ways to ensure the most vulnerable populations receive the critical mental health care and support services they need.”

Johnson is well poised to succeed Masciandaro. She joined the organization as a director in 1998, and advanced to the positions of vice president in 2001, senior vice president in 2016, and to her current role as executive sr. vice president of corporate affairs in 2019. Over the years, Johnson has provided input and oversight on major operational decisions for CarePlus including legal, financial, budgetary, employee relations, future expansion, development and compliance. As In-House Counsel, she manages all legal affairs of CarePlus NJ.

“Throughout her tenure with our organization, Brigitte has distinguished herself as a leader excelling in a variety of roles and demonstrated her relentless passion and ability to provide strategic counsel in complex situations. With her guidance we have been able to enhance and expand our delivery of mental health and addiction treatment services and emerge from the pandemic even stronger,” said Masciandaro. “I am pleased with the Board’s selection and more than confident that Brigitte will carry on CarePlus NJ’s mission and continue to expand upon the breadth and depth of comprehensive services we offer while remaining true to our roots as a community provider.”

For the past 14 years, Johnson has also served as lead counsel on the legal formation of three nonprofit subsidiary corporate entities of CarePlus NJ—the CarePlus Foundation, CarePlus Workforce Solutions and Paradigm Therapeutic Day School. In 2017, Johnson served as lead counsel in the formation of the separate 501(c)(3), Care Plus Bergen, for its bid and eventual contract negotiation to manage what was formerly Bergen Regional Medical Center, today referred to as Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.

Additionally, Johnson serves as executive director of Care Plus Workforce Solutions, Inc., a nonprofit subsidiary of CarePlus NJ that provides employment and training opportunities for the disabled and economically disadvantaged through the sale of goods and services. Over the past several years, Johnson has taken Care Plus Workforce Solutions from an annual gross revenue of $15,000 to $6 million and was instrumental in the subsidiary’s expansion from one laser imaging business line to three business lines, with the addition of janitorial services and laundry services.

“It is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to lead such an impactful, outstanding organization,” said Johnson. “Joe has served as a mentor to me. In working alongside Joe for many years, I have learned a great deal from his compassionate leadership and tireless advocacy. Throughout my longstanding career at CarePlus NJ, I’ve been deeply committed to our organization’s mission and look forward to continuing to build upon it and positively impact the lives of the individuals we serve in our communities.”

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