Tracey Dolan enhances a 30+ year career with the addition of a WCSU M.H.A.
Danbury native Tracey Dolan has been a familiar and comforting presence in times of trouble for many in our community. As the manager of Crisis Intervention and Mobile Outreach at Nuvance Health, Dolan has been on the front lines helping those who may be struggling or in crisis since 2005 with Nuvance, and since the early 1990s in her previous mental health care provider roles.
A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Dolan said her instincts to help others came from watching her parents while she was growing up in the Mill Ridge section of Danbury. Her mother was a school guidance counselor whose days were spent helping students find their future direction. Her father was a railroad worker who gravitated toward helping others in need. “Between my mom being a guidance counselor and my dad, who was a ‘natural social worker,’ I really had no other choice than to follow the path of helping others,” Dolan said. “This career was obviously going to be what I dedicated my life to.”
Toward that end, Dolan earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology at Clemson University. Five years later in 1994, she obtained a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University. Dolan will complete the next milestone in her educational journey in January 2024 — earning a Master of Health Administration from the AACSB-accredited Ancell School of Business at Western Connecticut State University.
During her 33-year career serving the region’s behavioral health needs, Dolan has worked as a residential counselor at DATHAR Rehabilitation Institute in Brookfield, a senior program director at Pathways in Greenwich, and as a clinical case manager at Interlude in Danbury. She’s served as a clinical social worker at Green Chimney’s Children’s Services, as a program coordinator and residential counselor at Fairfield Hills in Newtown for the Mental Health Association of Connecticut, and as a clinical social worker at the Department of Children and Families in Danbury and Waterbury. Dolan was the emergency mobile psychiatric services program director for Family and Children’s Aid until beginning her role as crisis clinician/
manager of Crisis Intervention at Danbury Hospital, now Nuvance.
In addition to all the families and individuals Dolan has assisted while working for so many area agencies and organizations, she also has served two multi-year stints as an assistant counselor at WCSU’s Counseling Center, and conducts private practice counseling.
“I had a professor at Columbia who told us, ‘Social work is who you are, not what you do,’” Dolan said. “There is a calling to it, and it’s an honor to be able to help the vulnerable people who allow me to be in their lives.”
Why then, 30 years after receiving her M.S.W. degree, has Dolan returned to college to pursue an M.H.A.? “I like the one-on-one, direct care clinical work,” Dolan said. “But I thought that even though I have become a manager at work, I wanted to become a better manager and leader. I looked around at the hospital and realized that all the leaders have M.H.A. degrees. I wish I had thought about it sooner.”
Dolan continued, “This will enhance my ability to understand my role as it relates to every other component of health care. The course work includes strategic planning, financial analysis and more. It helps demonstrate how all the different departments work together at a hospital or in health care in general. Having all these years behind me and my experience combined with the M.H.A. ties it all together nicely. It gives me a deeper dive on how complex our health care system really is.”
Once she started the program, Dolan pushed herself to finish in two years. “After the first summer, I said, ‘remind me not to take another summer class,’” she laughed. “And there I was the next summer, taking another summer class because I wanted to! The classes are so interesting, and it is a very rigorous program. Interim Dean of the Ancell School of Business and Professor of Healthcare and Operations Management Dr. Yaseen Hayajneh is a delight and you get so much support.”
Dolan recently was honored at the Ability Beyond 2023 Mental Health Autumn Breakfast. She received the 2023 Theresa Foss Memorial Award “for her extraordinary commitment to bringing hope, stability, friendship and opportunity into so many lives of the people we serve.”
With completion of her M.H.A. program in January 2024, Dolan says, “The possibilities are endless with what I can do with this degree. There will be so many opportunities and it will open so many doors for me to be able to help more people.”