Robert E. Simpson, Jr.

Robert E. Simpson, Jr.'s picture

Co-Founder and President of The Difference Leadership Group: Dr. Simpson works to strengthen the critical role that Board Members, Executive Leaders, Physician Leaders and other Leaders play in supporting organizational resilience. He coaches leaders throughout the country in the Healthcare, Energy, Educational, Non-Profit and other sectors. He partnered for ten years with Phil Harkins, Founder of Linkage, Inc. at the annual Global Institute for Leadership Development (GILD) in leading the Senior Executive Leadership Team of CEO’s from around the globe. 

Leadership & Coaching Skills: He is quite effective in assisting new leaders in accelerating their onboarding experience, setting early expectations and developing a leadership presence through effective communication and targeted skill acquisition. He has a leadership and coaching reputation as a quick witted, outcomes focused, pragmatic and supportive transformational leader who can quickly assess and develop a focused plan for leadership success that assures accountability. He has worked extensively with Physician leaders assisting in clarifying medical management opportunities, addressing physician burnout and enhancing strategies to create clinician and leader resilience through purpose focused teamwork. As a seasoned clinician and executive leader, he brings emotional intelligence and administrative acumen to his work and intuitively and by training understands the interplay of personal and professional leadership dynamics. While coaching is not psychotherapy, a sound understanding of each is valuable in crafting an effective, reliable and personally meaningful coaching plan. 

From 2006-2016 he served as President & CEO of the Brattleboro Retreat ranked by Modern Healthcare magazine as number 12 on its 2016 list of the 15 largest behavioral health providers. In 2013 he launched a new partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont known as Vermont Collaborative Care, LLC. This groundbreaking approach to care management integrates the management of mental health and substance abuse services with those of traditional medical care and supports improvements in the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of providing care by treating the “whole person” across all conditions setting the stage for Health Care Reform initiatives. 


  • Behavioral Healthcare Champion in 2014 by Behavioral Healthcare magazine for his “unique brand of dedication, courage, inspiration and excellence as a behavioral healthcare leader.” 
  • American Hospital Association Grassroots Champion 2010, which “Singles out one hospital leader from each state who effectively advocated tirelessly on behalf of patients, hospitals and the community served.” \
  • Anna Marsh Award 2015 in Recognition of a Lifetime of Advocacy and Leadership on Behalf of People with Mental Illness and Addiction. 
  • Founders Award 2012 from the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation
  • Southern Vermont Leadership Award 2015 for Excellence in Economic Development. He has also received 
  • Massachusetts State House and Senate Official Citations in 2005 & 2006 for his “Dedication to the Profession of Mental Health & Assistance to the People of Western Massachusetts.” 
  • Henry A. Butova Award 2019 given by the Western Massachusetts Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame annually to a former football player who is devoted to the game of football and who has distinguished himself in later life. 

Prior Executive Positions: Prior to joining the Retreat, Dr. Simpson served as CEO of Arbour Hospital, a member of the Universal Health Services, Inc., in Boston; Chief Operating Officer of Behavioral Healthcare and Sr. VP of Government Relations at the Sisters of Providence Health System; and VP of Behavioral Health and Cancer Services at Baystate Health System in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

Select Client Consultations: • Physician Executive Coaching with The Leadership Development Group, University of Massachusetts Health System 2019 • Executive Coaching Takeda Pharmaceutical • Executive Coaching GlaxoSmithKline • Executive On-Boarding Coaching-Physician & President, Central Maine Health System 2018  • Executive and Managerial Assessment & Coaching Program, Helmerich & Payne, Inc. Tulsa, OK. 2016-present • Building an Exceptional Board: How Governance Supports Mission & Vision, Vermont Community Foundation, LLC, 2017-2018.  “Creating a Purpose Driven Organization from the Board and C-Suite,” Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, Stowe Mountain Resort, 2016- 2017 • “Non-Profit Leadership Summit II: Board & Executive Leadership: Building a Culture of Transformational, Resilient & Purposeful Leadership”, Wells Fargo at Dartmouth College, May, 2016 • “Health Care Reform: The Role of Integrating Mental Illness Treatment: Epidemiology, Stigma and Addiction”, Marlboro College, Vermont 2015

Education: • Choate Rosemary Hall, Harvard Trophy • Amherst College, BA, Woodward Scholarship • Simmons College, MSW, Weisenfeld Scholarship • Harvard School of Public Health, MPH • University of Utah, DSW, Phi Kappa Phi., Marriner S. Eccles Scholar in Public Policy.

Select Publications & Patents: • US Patent # 8,500,719 B1: Primary Inventor, Catheter Support Medical Device, Clinical trial at Massachusetts General Hospital, February 2018-present • “Integrated Primary Care, the Future of Medical & Mental Health Collaboration” in The Primary/Behavioral Health Care Connection” 1998.  W. W. Norton & Company. • “Checklist Audit Process to Protect the Organization”, submitted. 

Select Professional Presentations: • "Creating a Team Charter to Manage & Lead Teams" University of Massachusetts Departments of Anesthesiology and Urology January 2020 • " Creating a Team of Teams: Building a Team Charter" GlaxoSmithKline February 2020 • “Building a Transformational Leadership Culture in the Energy Industry,” Helmerich & Payne, Tulsa, OK, Nov 2017, May 2018, January 2019 • “Change & Transition Management for the Operations Team” Central Maine Health System June 2018 • “CEO Mentoring Groups to Support Resilience”, Vermont Business Roundtable, May 2016 • “Non-Profit Leadership Summit II: Board & Executive Leadership: Building a Culture of Transformational, Resilient & Purposeful Leadership”, Dartmouth College, May, 2016 • “Health Care Reform: One Provider’s Perspective Integrating Mental Illness Treatment: Epidemiology, Stigma and Addiction” Vermont Association Hospitals & Health Systems, 2015.