KAWARTHA LAKES-The Canadian Mental Health Association Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge announced that Ellen Watkins has been appointed the position of CEO for the organization following Mark Graham’s retirement on January 31st. Watkins will officially step into her role as CEO on February 10th, 2024, with Graham assisting in the transition through April 2024.
After a 32-year career as CEO for CMHA HKPR, Graham announced his retirement back in June and the Board of Directors began the search for his successor. Watkins has accepted the offer to lead CMHA HKPR following Graham’s retirement.
“I look forward to the opportunity to continue to grow and develop our team from the solid foundation built by Mark Graham over the past 32 years. I appreciate each member of our CMHA HKPR community, who demonstrate daily, the capacity to think about our system in new ways, with the courage to shift to maximize our potential. We are a dynamic, passionate, client-focused, and brilliant agency with the capacity to continuously improve community mental health. I am extremely proud to be selected to lead our team,” says Watkins.
Watkins has been with CMHA HKPR since April of 2021, when she began the Director of Corporate Services role. Officials say she has been instrumental in moving the Agency to a new level of engagement, whether that be through the Strategic Plan Art project, Restructuring the Crisis Program and launching 9-8-8, Reevaluating and Renewing the Finance Processes in the Agency, or one of the many projects she has participated in.
Before her role with CMHA HKPR, Watkins worked at PRHC in Quality and Process Improvement, designing and launching the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic and Assessment Centre, and various other quality projects. Watkins also has a wealth of experience in the private sector, working in managerial roles at Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Frito Lay and Quaker.
Watkins completed her Executive MBA at Queen’s University in 2021 and in October of 2023 completed the Advanced Leadership for Social Impact Fellowship at the Smith School of Business.
“Ellen is a collaborative, empathetic, visionary leader who will utilize accountability, intentionality, and bravery every day in the CEO role,” says John Lyons, Board President with CMHA HKPR.