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Long-time Helio Health employee will continue leading the agency

By Eric Reinhardt (


Kathleen Gaffney-Babb

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Kathleen Gaffney-Babb has worked at Syracuse–based Helio Health, Inc. for more than 30 years and has been leading the agency as interim president and CEO since the beginning of the year.

Gaffney-Babb will continue in that role, as the Helio Health board of directors has decided to name her president and CEO, thereby removing the interim tag. 

At the same time, the Syracuse native also becomes the top official of the Helio Health Foundation and Fulton Friendship House, Inc., the agency announced.

Prior to 2023, she most recently served as executive VP and COO, per the Helio Health announcement.

Helio Health works to help those dealing with the effects of substance use and mental-health disorders and other health issues. 

Gaffney-Babb has been serving as the agency’s interim president and CEO since the start of 2023. She succeeds Jeremy Klemanski, who left the organization at the end of December to become president and CEO of Gateway Foundation in Chicago, Illinois.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am very pleased with our decision to appoint Kathleen Gaffney-Babb as the President and CEO of Helio Health,” James Antonacci, Jr., chairman of the Helio Health board of directors, said in a statement. “Ms. Gaffney-Babb has worked her way from the ground floor of Helio Health to becoming the leader of this great organization. What an accomplishment for her and what an asset for Helio Health. Helio Health is a leader in providing services for individuals with substance use and mental health disorders and other health issues; with over nine hundred employees, and still growing.”

About Gaffney-Babb

Gaffney-Babb started in a clinical role in 1991 at the outpatient clinic in Syracuse for 200 individuals and with only 50 colleagues. During that time, the agency only provided outpatient, residential and inpatient services, Helio Health noted in its announcement.

Later, she was promoted to director of outpatient services, then director of inpatient services, then to the director of quality assurance, training and compliance. And most recently, Gaffney-Babb served as the executive VP and COO. 

“I remain committed to leading Helio Health and our affiliates with integrity and inclusivity in the provision of evidence-based services for the people we serve and to becoming a workplace of choice for our colleagues who serve them,” Gaffney-Babb said. Helio Health will continue to work to meet the community needs, to increase access to quality services when and where people need them. Where hope meets healing is not just a tag line, it is a guiding North Star for all who work and receive services at Helio Health.”

Gaffney-Babb earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Empire State College and a master’s degree in rehabilitation from Syracuse University. She is also a nationally certified rehabilitation counselor and state credentialed alcoholism and substance-abuse counselor, Helio Health said.

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