Greenwich’s Dita Bhargava Joins United Way of Connecticut Board

The United Way of Connecticut announced on Thursday that Dita Bhargava has joined the organization’s board of directors.

A former electrical engineer with more than 25 years in the finance industry, Bhargava has worked to advocate for people living with mental health and substance use disorders.

In 2018, Bhargava lost her oldest son, Alec, on his 26th birthday to fentanyl poisoning while he was living in a sober home in Canaan.

Dita Bhargava

Since his passing, Bhargava has been working on creating awareness and erasing stigma. Through her non-profit work with Shatterproof, Connecticut Women’s Consortium and Liberation Programs, she brought together federal and state legislators, public health representatives, law enforcement officials and residents across Connecticut to host roundtables throughout the state in efforts to erase stigma and discuss solutions to the opioid pandemic.

Bhargava has also actively worked with the Connecticut legislature to help enact policy around substance use disorders and mental health issues. She helped to bring ATLAS to CT, a Shatterproof program that provides essential resources to help families find the best care and treatment for their loved ones.

“Dita is a terrific addition to our Board. Her expertise and lived experience will help us enhance our mental health crisis supports as we expand our 988 chat and text capabilities to help CT residents not just survive, but thrive,” said Lisa Tepper Bates, President and CEO of United Way of Connecticut/211 in a release.

Bhargava has served as an advisor on several committees, including a Technical Panel Expert committee for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), the Human Services Policy Transition Committee for Governor Lamont, the Medscape Advisory Board for Mental Wellness and Connecticut Innovations. In 2023, she joined an intimate parent advocate meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House West Wing offices to discuss the multi-pronged aspects of the opioid pandemic, including the fentanyl crisis, standards of care in treatment centers and the need for better education and awareness.

“Mental health disease is a growing public health crisis and has personally impacted my family. I was inspired to join the United Way of Connecticut Board of Directors because of the organization’s groundbreaking work and response to mental health needs in Connecticut. Not only does 211 provide the state’s point of entry for all mental health inquiries, but the 211 Crisis Team provides the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline service in Connecticut and is one of the top performing crisis call centers in the nation. These are critical services that are helping folks in dire need. I look forward to being hands-on and getting underneath the hood to learn more about their great work while supporting their mission,” Bhargava said in the release.

Bhargava lives in Cos Cob with her husband and two children. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health at Yale University.

Bhargava joins other current members of United Way of Connecticut’s Board of Directors, who represent an important cross-section of leadership across industries and service areas: Yvette Highsmith-Francis, Board Chair and VP East Region, Community Health Center, Inc.; Steven Hernandez, Board Vice Chair and Executive Director, ConnCAN; Jonathan H. Beamon, Sr. Asst. Corp. Counsel, Office of Corp. Counsel, City of Hartford; Greg Butler, EVP and General Counsel, Eversource Energy; Matt Cammarota, SVP and Head of Retail Lending at Liberty Bank; Alberto Cota, COO, Summit Trail Advisors; William Darby, Chief, Manchester Police Department; John Emra, President, Atlantic Region AT&T; Maria Harlow, Board Secretary and Executive Director, United Way of Meriden & Wallingford; Kristen Jacoby, President & CPO, United Way of Greater Waterbury; Jason Jakubowski, President & CEO, Foodshare; and Tracy Michaud, Immediate Past Board Chair and Dir., HR Business Partner, Sun Life Financial.