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Office of the Director

Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals
Barry Hall, 14 Harrington Road, Cranston, RI 02920
Telephone: 401-462-2339; Fax: 401-462-3204

A Message from Director Maria Montanaro, MSW

Maria MontanaroIt is an honor and privilege to serve as the Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals as we strive to fulfill our mission at the Department. I am proud to be the Director of this department which administers a system of care that provides services for more than 50,000 Rhode Islanders.

As the leader of the department, I am deeply committed to ensuring that we fulfill our responsibility to all those who seek our assistance to live their life to the fullest potential. We strive each and every day to provide access to high quality, comprehensive, coordinated services that will meet the needs of those we serve and provide successful outcomes. It is essential that all of our services are robust, highly responsive and person-centered, encompassing the principles of recovery, self-determination, choice and planning.

As you may know, we have many challenges in front of us and there are things to improve. But since walking into Barry Hall my first day, the most important thing I have learned is that we have a wonderful staff, filled with hard working, committed and passionate professionals. I am excited about the opportunities that are in front of us to lead change in the healthcare delivery system. It won't be easy, but hopefully we can move the entire system for which we are responsible, to a better place.

Maria Montanaro Signature

Director Montanaro's Background

Maria Montanaro is a health care professional with over 24 years of senior executive management experience. She was appointed by Governor Gina Raimondo to serve as Director of the Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH).

A lifelong Rhode Islander, she returns home to head BHDDH after four years of living in Des Moines, Iowa, where she served as the Chief Executive Officer of Magellan Behavioral Care of Iowa, managing over $400 million annually in Medicaid services for 400,000 members.

Under her leadership, Magellan Behavioral Care:

  • Increased revenue by $100 million annually.
  • Designed and implemented a statewide patient-centered integrated health home program for 40,000 Seriously Mentally Ill (SMI) adults as well as a program for 16,000 children with Seriously Emotionally Disturbed (SED)
  • Development of risk stratified, data-driven strategies to managed care for the most vulnerable and seriously ill populations
  • Expansion of behavioral health community support services, including peer support and community support services
  • Partnership with the State of Iowa in designing and implementing innovative health care reform in Medicaid Statewide

Ms. Montanaro has dedicated her career to serving the medically underserved, most notably as the Chief Executive Officer of Thundermist Health Center for 14 years, until her departure to Iowa in 2011. Thundermist is a private, non-profit community health center serving more than 35,000 patients, with comprehensive primary care in an advanced patient medical home model. Under Ms. Montanaro's leadership, Thundermist received state, regional and national recognition for excellence in promoting high quality primary care to the medically underserved and for its innovative leadership in primary care practice transformation. After leaving Thundermist in order to join her husband in Iowa, Ms. Montanaro spent a year consulting for Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Rhode Island as its Senior Advisor for Integrated Health Management, traveling back and forth between the two states. She settled full time into her Iowa life when she took the helm of Magellan of Iowa in 2012. Ms. Montanaro holds an M.S.W. from the University of Illinois in health policy and a B.S. from the University of Massachusetts. Recent past recognition for Ms. Montanaro include: RI Foundation Non Profit Leaders Fellow (2010); YWCA Business Woman of the Year- 2010, Providence Business News 2008 Business Women of Achievement; Big Sisters of RI 40 Magical Women We Admire (2007); RI Foundation/Harvard Business School SE New England Alumni Association Non-Profit Leaders Scholarship (2002). Her recent past professional affiliations include: Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island (Board President), Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council (Trustee), The RI (Governor's) Commission on Health Care Reform, Woman and Infants' Hospital Breast Health Center (RI); Shoulder to Shoulder, (US/Honduras),The National Association of Community Health Centers and The RI Health Center Association (Past Board Chair).

Currently, Ms. Montanaro serves as Co-Chair of the Governor's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force and as a member of Governor Raimondo's Justice Reinvestment Working Group. She is on the board of the American Academy of Family Practice's Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Health. Ms. Montanaro and her husband make their home in Southern Rhode Island.