January 5, 2023
On January 5th, Marylou Sudders steps down from her role as Massachusetts’ Secretary of Health and Human Services. Secretary Sudders leaves behind a legacy as the state’s longest serving health secretary and we thank her for her eight years of service to the Commonwealth under the Baker-Polito administration.
As secretary of the largest single state department, Sudders oversaw the multi-layered Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHSS), which directly impacts 25% of the state’s residents. These residents are often among the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in Massachusetts, consisting of children, youth, adults, and seniors.
Sudders has long been an unwavering advocate of quality, accessible, and appropriate behavioral and mental health services and has advanced solutions to issues in child welfare, public health, and community services through the lens of social work.
After graduating from Boston University with a bachelor’s in psychology and a master's in social work, Sudders began her journey in public service in 1996 as the Commissioner of Massachusetts’ Department of Mental Health (DMH). Of her many legislative accomplishments during this time, the Children’s League of Massachusetts (CLM) was most impacted by the creation of the Commission on Children’s Mental Health, which was established during her tenure as the chief public mental health official. CLM served as an active member of this commission, as did Sudders, who served as a member of this commission when she became the President and CEO of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC) in 2003.
CLM has a longstanding and deep relationship with Sudders, who served as the Board Chair at CLM from 2004 - 2006 during her tenure at MSPCC. We have deeply appreciated her partnership and collaboration with our CLM member community over the years, but never more so than as we worked together to navigate the unprecedented global health crisis. Secretary Sudders and her staff worked hand-in-hand with CLM leadership, members, and partners throughout the pandemic to ensure providers had the resources they needed to continue delivering vital services safely and effectively, and to keep children and families safe.
As she leaves her post at EOHHS, CLM members are proud to be part of the launch of a statewide network of Community Behavioral Health Centers (CBHCs), which are expected to provide expanded access to behavioral health evaluation and treatment in communities across the Commonwealth. CBHCs are a part of the Roadmap for Behavioral Health Reform initiative, which Sudders states is a “centerpiece” to what she has accomplished during her time as Secretary of Health and Human Services. The first of 25 CBHCs went live last month.
It has been a pleasure working in collaboration with and alongside Secretary Sudders over the years and across various professional capacities. We admire and are inspired by your lifelong commitment to serving the people of Massachusetts and prioritizing the health, well-being, and success of children and families. Thank you for your years of public service - you will always be a friend of the Children’s League of Massachusetts.
Words of gratitude for Secretary Sudders from CLM's current board:
"From one Social Worker to another, thank you for your commitment to the kids and families served by The Home for Little Wanderers and to all human service providers. Your leadership allowed us to continue to serve the most vulnerable during an extraordinary time. Thank you Secretary Sudders."Lesli Suggs, President and CEO, The Home for Little Wanderers
"I want to join with others and express my thanks and admiration for your extraordinary leadership as secretary of Health and Human Services during such extraordinarily challenging times. You leave an amazing legacy of achievement, especially in the domain of mental health services, while charting the path for all of us to get through an unprecedented pandemic. Thanks so much for being in the right place, making the right decisions at the time we needed it most. You have had an incredible career of service to the people of the Commonwealth and the lives of so many is much better thanks to you. Many thanks and all the best for the future."Bob Gittens, Executive Director, Bridges Homeward
"On behalf of myself and all the staff and stakeholders of the Gándara Mental Health Center, THANK YOU for your unwavering commitment and steadfast dedication to the Human Service providers in the Commonwealth for many years. Your years of service speak volumes to the impact you have made. We have appreciated your ongoing concern for the persons we serve in ensuring that the provision of services meets their unique needs effectively. Best of luck to you in any future endeavors and relax a bit."Lois Nesci, CEO, Gándara Mental Health Center
"Words cannot express the gratitude we feel for your advocacy for children rights and mental health parity. What a wonderful legacy you have left. Thank you."Beth Barto, CEO, LUK Inc.
"On behalf of Child & Family Services, Inc and the children and families we serve throughout the Commonwealth, THANK YOU! The unwavering support and expertise you provided during your tenure as Secretary of Health and Human Services compares to no others. Your vision to create the Community Behavioral Health Centers has led to a robust network of services for those most in need in Massachusetts. Thank you is not enough, best of luck in your future endeavors."Anne G. Sampaio, CEO, Child & Family Services, Inc.
"Thank you, Secretary Sudders, for all that you have done for so many children, families, and young adults across Massachusetts and in support of providers like Youth Villages who serve them. We are proud to have been your partner in this work!"Matt Stone, Executive Director, Youth Villages MA & NH