Opioid Task Force co-chairs win 2018 Manuel Carballo Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service

  • Sheriff Christopher J. Donelan

Published: 11/23/2018 10:00:49 PM
Modified: 11/23/2018 10:00:59 PM

GREENFIELD —  Sheriff Christopher J. Donelan, Register John F. Merrigan, and Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan have been selected as one of nine winners of the 2018 Manuel Carballo Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service. They are being recognized for their leadership of the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region (OTF) since 2013, one of the first task forces established in Massachusetts and in the nation to combat this public health crisis.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for our collective efforts,” said Register John F. Merrigan. “We’ve been joined at the hip since day one and it’s been a privilege to work alongside the Sheriff and the Northwestern District Attorney to fight this epidemic.”

Sheriff Christopher J. Donelan said, “We have a passion for this work. We’ve seen too many people die not to act and are grateful for the Commonwealth’s support of the Task Force.”

“We learned early on that we have to work together to save lives,” said Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan. “We are heartened that our work has been seen and hope it inspires others to take action in their own community.”

"As someone who has collaborated closely with the OTF Co-Chairs for years, it is thrilling to see their efforts be recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for their pioneering work,” saidJudge Beth A. Crawford, First Justice of the Franklin Division of the Probate and Family Court. "They are visionaries and trailblazers, which helped spur the creation of the Family Drug Court in 2016, the first one established in the Commonwealth. We are indebted to them for helping us get started.”

“The Register, Sheriff, and DA continue to exemplify the persistence, dedication, compassion, and advocacy that is essential to bringing real change to a region where so many people and families are impacted by addiction,” said Marisa Hebble, former Coordinator of the Opioid Task Force and currently the Coordinator of the Massachusetts Community Justice Project for the Massachusetts Trial Court. “Their willingness to collaborate, listen and respond to a community in need is a model for communities across the state and nation.”

Debra McLaughlin, Coordinator of the Opioid Task Force said, “I've seen the Co-Chairs work tirelessly to champion collaborative efforts to break down silos and save lives. Their ongoing support made it possible for the Task Force to help secure, advocate, and leverage federal and state funding, which has brought $7,150,000 in new dollars to the region in the last 18 months.”

The Manuel Carballo Award for Excellence in Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service is part of the Commonwealth’s Performance Recognition Program, which recognizes the outstanding contributions of individuals and groups of state employees who play a major role in the successful delivery of quality services to the citizens of Massachusetts.

Donelan, Merrigan and Sullivan’s contributions will be recognized by Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito in a ceremony at the State House on Friday, December 7.

About Manuel Carballo: The late Manuel Carballo, the former Massachusetts Secretary of Human Services, died January 27, 1984, at the age of 42. Mr. Carballo, whose office supervised the state's mental health and public health departments as well as its social service, youth, Medicaid and welfare programs, often told colleagues that he was drawn into public service after the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. As an undergraduate at Princeton University, Mr. Carballo studied for a career in the Foreign Service. Mr. Carballo was born in Manhattan in 1941 and grew up in Newark, where his family lived after fleeing Spain in its Civil War. He received a bachelor's degree from Princeton in 1963 and a law degree from Harvard in 1966. He also held a master's degree in public administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he taught in the early 1980's until Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts named him to the state post in 1983. (Adapted from the New York Times obituary, which can be found here.)

About the Opioid Task Force: Formed in September 2013, the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region has over 400 members working together to help reduce opioid and heroin addiction, prevent overdose deaths, and improve the quality of life in the region through its prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery initiatives and committees. More information about the work of the Opioid Task Force can be found at: www.opioidtaskforce.org; www.facebook.com/OpioidTaskForce; and www.twitter.com/OpioidTaskForce.

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