Bridge Center opening moves forward, selects executive director

Bridge Center opening moves forward, selects executive director
Charlotte Claiborne has been selected as the Executive Director of the long-talked-about mental health facility, The Bridge Center of Hope. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Bridge Center is one step closer to opening, announcing Tuesday that an executive director has been selected.

The Bridge Center for Hope, which will oversee East Baton Rouge's new behavioral health crisis center, has selected Charlotte Claiborne as its executive director.

Claiborne’s first major task will be to oversee the opening of the center. The board of directors is eyeing three locations to place the long-talked-about mental health facility.

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“We had a strong slate of candidates who demonstrated their dedication to helping people suffering a crisis,” said Kathy Kliebert, chair of The Bridge Center. “We picked Charlotte because her mix of business and health care skills fit our need to not only start a new service, but to make sure it grows and matches the needs of people with mental illness and substance abuse challenges.”

In her previous job, Claiborne was director of Louisiana Behavioral Health Agency, where she was charged with expanding the organization into new areas of Louisiana. She worked for 17 years at Entergy, where she managed multi-million-dollar contracts, was a department representative of a health program that encouraged physical and mental health among employees, and served as budget analyst and manager on several special projects.

“My goal is to create a model facility that will address the gap in behavioral health and substance abuse services,” Claiborne said. “With the facility, we’ll help thousands of our neighbors who have nowhere else to turn when they are suffering in a crisis. Bridge will also work to reduce the stigma of mental illness in our parish.”

Earlier this year, the Bridge Center, a nonprofit, was chosen by the Metro Council to open the behavioral health crisis center. Funded by a $6 million tax approved in December, the 30-bed center will serve up to 5,000 people in crisis annually, stabilizing and connecting them with therapies.

Bridge Center and RI International, the direct provider, are searching for a location with a goal of opening the center in the Spring of 2020.

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