Who We Are

The Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is a community-based, non-profit agency with a 90 plus year history of providing a continuum of care for children, adolescents, adults and families who suffer from serious and persistent behavioral health disorders. We are guided by the belief that everyone in Berkshire County benefits when people are mentally, physically and emotionally healthy.

Every day, The Brien Center finds innovative ways to reach, engage and serve Berkshire County residents so they may benefit from the many excellent programs and services our agency provides. Our service grows: last year, we served 10,000 people, including 4,000 children.

Our professional staff work tirelessly to ensure all Berkshire County residents have access to the high-quality, affordable behavioral health services they need—when they need them, where they need them —right here in our community. We provide care without regard to age, race, culture, intellect, socioeconomic status, or insurance status in a manner that supports every person’s ability to live, work and participate in community life.

Our comprehensive, integrated treatment methods are based on a sound clinical foundation of advanced, evidence-based practices that incorporate the whole person—including their voice, their preferences, and their personal support network—throughout the process.

Our treatment philosophy is based on a comprehensive care model that incorporates recovery, resiliency, and rehabilitation principles; promotes individual and family choice; is evidence based; and utilizes family, team, and natural supports that promote stabilization, recovery and wellness within the person’s community setting whenever possible. Our utmost priority is keeping people safe and supporting their choices and their voices throughout their treatment and recovery.


Organizational Structure

The Brien Center is led by a Board of Directors representing the populations and communities of Berkshire County. Officers are elected each year from among the members of the Board and by the Board at the Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors held in September. The Board meets seven times per year. For more information on the Board of Directors, board meetings, or other board-related matters, please call our Administrative Offices at 413-499-0412.

Board of Directors

Richard Lombardi, Immediate Past Chair

Linda Febles, Chair
Michael Fazio, Vice Chair and Treasurer
Christopher Hennessey, Clerk

Christa Ames
Tim Burke
Lori Gazzillo
Adam Klepetar

Our Divisions

The Brien Center is organized around four service divisions:

Acute Care Services
Adult and Family Services
Child and Adolescent Services
Community Services

Each division is directed by a two-person team comprised of a Division Director and a Medical Director who specialize in the division’s area of focus.

Leadership Team

Our Leadership Team draws on their significant knowledge and experience to guide the agency towards larger goals, and has responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the agency.

M. Christine Macbeth, ACSW, LICSW
President and Chief Executive Officer

Paul Hickling, MS
Vice President of Service Operations

Jeffrey Pringle, MBA
Vice President of Administration and Finance

Jennifer Michaels, MD
Medical Director

Denise Galvagni, LCSW
Division Director
Community Services Division

Megan Eldridge Wroldson, LICSW
Division Director
Adult Outpatient Services Division

James Mucia, LICSW
Division Director
Child and Adolescent Services Division

Rebecca Phelps-Smith, LICSW
Division Director
Acute Care Services Division

Lois Hobbs
Director of Human Resources

Psychiatric/Medical Team

The Brien Center’s Medical Team is comprised of board certified psychiatrists, clinical nurse specialists, a physician assistant, registered nurses, and medical assistants. As members of the Brien Center’s multidisciplinary teams, the medical staff provides comprehensive, fully integrated psychiatric services. Brien Center physicians and nurses offer treatment coordination with the client’s family and primary care provider. The Brien Center Medical Staff services include:

  • Psychiatric assessment, diagnosis and treatment planning
  • Evidenced based treatment of general psychiatric disorders, co-occurring disorders and substance use disorders
  • State-of-the-art psychopharmacology services
  • Psychiatric consultation to clinical team, community physicians and caregivers

Psychiatric/Medical Team:

Jennifer Michaels, MD
Medical Director, Adult and Family Services Division

Linda Smothers, MD
Medical Director, Acute Care Services Division

Brenda Butler, MD
Medical Director, Child and Adolescent Services Division

Melinda Randall, MD
Medical Director, Community Services Division

Christopher Biernacki, PA-C
Physician Assistant, Adult and Family Services Division

Pat Creighton, APRN
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Child and Adolescent Services Division

Chris Reis-Fiegel, APRN
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Adult and Family Services Division

Alyce Kaplan, APRN
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Adult and Family Services Division

Silvia Beaupre, APRN
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse


Over 450 employees serve Berkshire County residents with quality behavioral health and addiction services. Our agency’s culture thrives on trust, respect, and cooperation. Our employees are hard-working, dedicated individuals who strive to bring hope and recovery to those who suffer from persistent mental health and addiction disorders. If you are interested in joining our team, please visit the Careers section of our website.


The Brien Center traces its origins back to 1916, when Dr. Austen Riggs began holding consultations with patients in a rented a room on West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield, located on the trolley line. In 1920, the Riggs Clinic was established (forerunner to Berkshire Mental Health Center) for adults at the House of Mercy Hospital on upper North Street (now Berkshire Medical Center). It was called the “Mental Hygiene and Neurological Clinic”, and was operated almost entirely on Riggs Foundation funds, with the hospital contributing clinic space. In 1924, Dr. Riggs established a child guidance clinic at the House of Mercy location. At the same time, a mental hygiene clinic was established at Russell House in Great Barrington, where Community Health Programs had its first offices. Over the course of that year, the two clinics logged 1,001 visits, representing a threefold increase over the previous year, and an eightfold increase over the number of patients served the first year.

Beginning in 1950, the infusion of state, federal and local money supported a considerable expansion of services in the County. The Riggs Clinic became Berkshire Mental Health Association in 1958, which then became the Berkshire Mental Health Center in 1965. By 1985, the Agency had an annual budget of $2.7 million, 131 employees, and served approximately 3,564 people. In 1995, it merged with Northern Berkshire Counseling Center and became Mental Health Services of the Berkshires. In 1997, it merged with Berkshire Council on Alcoholism and Addictions and became Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services of the Berkshires. In 2003, the Agency was renamed The Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in honor of Ray Brien who passed away in 2002. He had been the Executive Director for over 20 years and envisioned the Agency becoming the premier provider of behavioral health services for the county. The Riggs Clinic unites time and place and, in its own way, contributed to the mental health of many Berkshire residents and laid the foundation throughout the County for the commitment to the large scale community behavioral health services and programs currently available at the Brien Center.

Today, our agency is actively working to create a more visible, consolidated campus in the center of Pittsfield where patients of all ages can easily access affordable quality mental health and addiction services. In 2010, we purchased the former Mt. Carmel Parish site on Fenn Street, and we have renovated two of the four buildings and relocated three of our four divisions, plus our administrative offices, to this ideal site. We anticipate completing the second phase of our renovation project in the near future, with the support of generous community donors. We have also recently consolidated our programs in North Adams in the former North Adams Transcript building, which we renovated to accommodate the residents of North County.

As the County’s only community behavioral health provider, The Brien Center must continue to address the needs of the residents of Berkshire County for improved mental health, fighting stigma to facilitate a better understanding about how mental health affects everyone, and making sure those who are affected by mental illness and/or addiction get the support they need. Building on our long and successful history, we look forward to a bright future serving the residents of Berkshire County!