The Riggs Blog

A New Generation of Leaders at Riggs

The Austen Riggs Center is excited to announce the emergence of a new generation of leaders who have been listening, learning and developing at Riggs for the past fifteen to twenty years. These new leaders represent both change and stability. A careful plan was developed to conduct this transition in leadership and incorporated throughout 2013 and early 2014. New leaders are in place and actively engaging in their work.

The new leaders include:

James L. Sacksteder, M.D., who was appointed medical director/CEO early in 2013. Dr. Sacksteder came to the Center as a fellow in 1976 and has been a dedicated clinician and administrator whose commitment to Riggs spans more than three decades. Initially a staff psychiatrist, his most recent roles include the director of patient care and associate medical director. Dr. Sacksteder is the author of numerous articles and a long-time lecturer at Smith College School for Social Work. He is the co-editor of Attachment and the Therapeutic Process with Daniel P. Schwartz, M.D. and Yoshiharu Akabane, M.D.

Eric M. Plakun, M.D., DLFAPA, FACPsych, is the new associate medical director and will also maintain his role as director of admissions. Dr. Plakun began his Fellowship at the Center in 1978 and became a staff psychiatrist in 1982. A board-certified psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, researcher and forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Plakun is the editor of New Perspectives on Narcissism (American Psychiatric Press, 1990) and Treatment Resistance and Patient Authority: The Austen Riggs Reader (Norton Professional Books, 2011), as well as author of more than thirty-five articles and book chapters on the diagnosis, treatment, longitudinal course and outcome of patients with borderline personality disorder and treatment resistant disorders.

Margaret Parish, Ph.D., has been selected as the new director of patient care. Dr. Parish began her Fellowship at the Center in 2001 and became a staff psychologist in 2005. Dr. Parish’s previous roles at the Center include treatment team leader, manager of the community center and consultant to outside organizations through the Erikson Institute Consultation Service. Dr. Parish brings to the role her expertise in group relations theory and practice and her previous professional experience in coordinating residential treatment programs.

Jane Tillman, Ph.D., ABPP, was named the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Director of the Erikson Institute for Education and Research, effective July 1, 2013. Dr. Tillman came to the Center in 1995 and completed a four-year Fellowship in psychoanalytic psychology. She has been a valued psychotherapist, supervisor and teacher serving in various capacities including the manager for clinical and organizational evaluation and clinical team leader. Dr. Tillman serves on the Accreditation Council for Psychoanalytic Education’s Board of Trustees, is the chair of the Ethics Committee for Division 39, and serves on the editorial boards of Psychoanalytic Psychology as well as the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. She was the first graduate of the Berkshire Psychoanalytic Institute.

Jennifer Stevens, Ph.D., has been named the new director of training, effective January 1, 2014. Dr. Stevens came to the Center in 1999 as a Fellow in psychology and after graduating became a staff psychologist at the Center. She left to pursue psychoanalytic training at the William Alanson White Institute in New York City, and upon the completion of her training returned to the Center. Dr. Stevens has held several internal positions; she is a psychotherapist, clinical supervisor of psychotherapy, teaching faculty member, psychotherapy consultant, admissions officer and served as the chair of external education for three years.

David F. Flynn, M.D., has been named as the new director of psychiatric education, effective February 10, 2014. Dr. Flynn will also maintain his role as the associate director of admissions. A board certified psychiatrist, Dr. Flynn completed the fellowship in psychodynamic psychotherapy at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and came to the Center as a Fellow in 2007. He became a staff psychiatrist in 2011. Dr. Flynn has published and presented on the topic of treatment resistance and psychodynamic psychopharmacology.

Cathleen Morey, L.I.C.S.W., has been appointed the new director of clinical social work. Ms. Morey has been employed at the Center as a clinical social worker since 2004 and brings considerable experience to the position. Ms. Morey received her master of social work degree from Smith College. Her past experience includes working as an outpatient psychotherapist in a community mental health center and as a substance abuse clinician in a correctional facility. Ms. Morey has also been involved in child welfare advocacy, serving on the board of directors of Berkshire Children and Families, a local child welfare agency.

Suzanne Dewey, M.B.A., has been appointed the new director of marketing and business development. Ms. Dewey has a Bachelor of Arts from Occidental College and graduated from Boston University with an M.B.A. in health care management. She has spent two decades working in marketing, planning, and business development before joining Austen Riggs in 2011. She has held management positions at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts Hospital Association, and Tobey Hospital. Suzanne also worked as a consultant with her own firm and a national consultancy (Corporate Health Group). She has worked with physician teams forwarding collaboration across a network of health care organizations and has served as executive director for a membership organization. Suzanne also has experience in fund-raising and public relations.

The retirement of some and shifting focus of other long-time leaders at Riggs has provided an opportunity to recognize several experienced and dedicated leaders in our midst, who are ready to lead and continue our tradition of excellence.

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