Employee Spotlight: Ashley Gilbert, Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month

Ashley Gilbert, LCSW-R started working for ConnextCare as a school-based health center Licensed Master Social Worker, within the Sandy Creek School. Through hours of recorded clinical time and supervision, Ashley transitioned to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Ashley continued to portray a high degree of decisiveness and a calm and confident practice style that was most appealing as we looked to establish a mental health program at the main sites. Ashley was critical to developing policies and procedures for the overall program management and with her willingness and flexibility, ConnextCare was able to launch mental health services across all initial six practice sites. When the Central Square office opened, Ashley was quick to volunteer to travel to this new location, to serve as the main mental health support to ensure access to essential services at a location that was most convenient to patients. In the summer of 2022, Ashley had secured enough recorded clinical hours to apply for her “R” and now holds the designation of a Registered, Licensed Clinical Social Worker……a true gem and unique credential that signifies the personal and professional commitment she has made to the delivery of mental health services in rural Oswego County.

Ashley has fond memories of what Behavioral Health at the main site looked like in its formative years. Ashley and Julie shared not only an office, but a computer as well! Strategically planning their work hours, often including late evenings, to allow both Providers access to a computer. All but begging Primary Care Providers for referrals; referrals that were received were mostly crisis mode patients who needed to seek higher levels of care. The lovely ceiling vent that funneled conversations from other Provider offices into their office. “We have certainly come a long way since those early days,” Ashley laughed as she reminisced. As she thinks about the next ten years, Ashley would love to see a fulltime Behavioral Health Provider at every site. “It seems like a stretch, but then again; so did a fulltime Provider at every School Based back in 2013!”

When asked what stands out the most over the last few years, specifically regarding COVID-19 and it’s impact on mental health and healthcare, Ashley’s response was simple but profound. Summed up in one word, stability. ConnextCare offered stability for its patients. “As a system, we were able to meet our patients where they were. We, as Providers, were considered essential. But, more importantly, we were vigilant, making sure services were available at the most crucial times; therefore making behavioral health essential to our patients.”

“One of the most fulfilling moments, especially in School Based, is when kids make the choice to seek out your services,” Ashley shares. Another professional success for Ashley is being able to help “build the next generation of therapists.” Ashley hopes support and availability for Behavioral Health services will continue to abolish the stigma associated with mental health.

Below are some figures that show just how incredible the growth has been over the last 10 years!




BH Providers





1 Child Psychiatrist

1 Adult Psychiatrist

1 Psychiatric PA

3 Psychiatric NP

*4th joining in July

Main Site BH locations



School Based BH locations



Number of BH patients


1,435 (Y/E 2022)

Number of BH visits


10,357 (Y/E 2022)

Ashley is a strong advocate for finding balance in life. “We cannot pour from empty cups,” she states as she explains the importance of finding and maintaining balance. Ashley encourages all coworkers to take time away to relax, refresh and recharge. “It is important, as Providers, to be open and available. Not only to our patients, but to our coworkers as well. If you don’t take time to balance, you will lose perspective on your why.”

From Tricia Peter Clark, CEO:

Ashley began her career here just after NOCHSI joined forces with the rest of the primary care sites across the county. The well thought out plan for system integration was launched literally overnight and next month Ashley arrived! The opportunities within the acquisition were truly endless and instead of shying away from the growth, Ashley embraced it. Her personality is not one to just sit back and enjoy the ride, instead she was the co-pilot who took our ship and guided it through unfamiliar waters of adult mental health care. Despite the wavy waters encountered, Ashley stayed true to the course and today our Oswego County community is benefiting from her strength, determination and vision of what our program could offer for the whole spectrum of care. It has been a privilege to watch Ashley grow within this profession, committing hundreds of clinical hours to signify her devotion to her career, advancing her credentials at every turn.

Multiple patient satisfaction survey responses rank Ashley among the highest in the quality of care provided. Her therapy techniques have led to the successful graduation of many patients referred, out of the program as she has helped them achieve the independent skills to manage daily struggles and live a normal life.

Your strong, charismatic character, constant smile and positive attitude make you truly stand out in a crowd! We are so fortunate to have you Ashley! Thanks for all you have done to improve the lives of our community friends and family members.

From Julie Hogle, LCSW-R:

Ashley has been an integral part of behavioral health at ConnextCare from the time she joined in 2013. Starting at Lura Sharp & PACS School-Based and then working to develop the main site program in 2016, she has helped to establish an invaluable resource for our community: quality, trusted, professional, and consistent mental health services for our patients. Ashley’s commitment to providing her patients the best therapeutic experience is always her first priority; she is committed to making sure her patients feel safe, valued, and respected when they are at their most vulnerable.

Ashley also brings that level of commitment and best self as a colleague; she is always kind, caring, compassionate, and thoughtful, and is able to find the best in others regardless of circumstance. Throughout these past 10 years of working side-by-side, it is hard to imagine what our program would look like without her contributions; she has a deep understanding of “how humans work” and is able to find the humor when needed most! Ashley brings light and laughter to a challenging profession in challenging times, and we are fortunate and grateful to have her on our Team!

Congratulations on your 10 years Ashley!!!

From Dawn Marie Rung, LCSW:

I would like to Congratulate Ashley on 10 years of service. Ashley is an amazing clinician, who is very conscientious and caring. Ashley goes above and beyond at work and in her community. She is often engaged in helping with fundraising for various causes, especially those related to her children’s school and for cancer. Ashley has amazing positive energy which radiates in everything she does.

Thank you Ashley for your dedication not only to our ConnextCare patients, but also to the Behavioral Health profession. You are a true pillar in our community, and we are proud to have you as part of our ConnextCare family!

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