Development Guild is pleased to announce the appointment of Ashwin Vasan, M.D., Ph.D., as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of Fountain House. An expert in public health policy and political and social advocacy, as well as a primary care physician and academic, Dr. Vasan is committed to improving the lives of vulnerable people. He will lead the advancement of Fountain House’s work around mental illness, homelessness, criminal justice, healthcare, and social welfare for marginalized people and communities, and look to expand Fountain House’s impact at the local, national, and global levels.
Dr. Vasan joins Fountain House from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons where he is an Assistant Professor and works as a primary care internist for low-income patients. He will maintain his academic affiliation and limited clinical practice with Columbia, while leading Fountain House.
Previously, Dr. Vasan served as the founding Executive Director of the Health Access Equity Unit at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, a first-of-its-kind municipal health department program. There, his work focused on the intersection of health, clinical systems, and the social welfare needs of marginalized populations. Earlier in his career, Dr. Vasan held roles at Partners in Health and at the World Health Organization, where he centered his work on vulnerable populations in the world’s most challenging settings. At these organizations, he spent time in the Global South, including Rwanda, Lesotho, and Uganda, increasing access to HIV/AIDS treatment and strengthening health care systems and primary care delivery.
Dr. Vasan’s career showcases a professional commitment to improving and advocating for public health and social justice, and he brings that commitment to Fountain House and its mission, constituency, and history. He says, “We have a powerful opportunity to confront the legacy of deinstitutionalization of our mental health system. People living with mental illness are too-often relegated to jails, shelters, emergency rooms, or left on the streets in lieu of having access to the kind of healing, dignified environments, and services provided by Fountain House. This is a human rights and social crises, and we have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to push our public and private sectors alike to invest in proven community systems of care that promote recovery and allow people with mental illness to experience dignified lives. I am proud that we can openly advocate and stand up for the rights of people with mental illness. I have stood up for these kinds of human rights and for social justice my entire professional career and will continue to do so at Fountain House.”
“We are delighted to welcome Ashwin as the next President and Chief Executive Officer. Fountain House and its community system of care represent an innovative and successful model for helping people with serious mental illness live healthier and more productive lives. Ashwin is the ideal candidate to take the organization forward into its eighth decade and next phase,” says William Hilburn, Chair of the Fountain House Board of Directors.