Author Archive

In Memory of Jerry Montoya

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Jerry Montoya (ALTP Class of 2003) passed away on August 18, 2020. Jerry was the NW Region Health Promotion Manager for the New Mexico Department of Health, and was well known throughout the state as a public health leader and a strong advocate for health equity and social justice. And yet Jerry is so much more than that – he is a New Mexico public health legend who embodied every aspect of genuine leadership. In the Memories pages that have been set up to celebrate his life every other sentence reveals how he led. He cared about “who is not at the table?” He was courageous. He had clear vision. He gave people confidence. He was generous, dependable, supportive, passionate, he lead with his heart. His heroes were John Snow and John Lewis. And Jerry is our hero.

There will be a virtual Memorial Celebration of Life on September 18, 2020. Details are provided in the link above. Please share your personal memories of Jerry there as well and learn more about his lasting impact.

Interview with Stacey Sanders, Founder and Executive Director of Elevating Connections and a RIHEL Alumna

Stacey Sanders attended the Advanced Leadership Training Program in the 2016 class, at the suggestion of an Advanced Physician Leadership Program graduate and former RIHEL board member. The two were collaborating on bringing Camp To Belong, a camp experience for siblings separated in foster care, to Colorado. Recognizing the need for more than a once-a-year connection, Stacey established Elevating Connections in February 2015 to offer additional connecting events throughout the year, and received their 501(c)3 designation in October of that year.

“The timing was incredible,” says Stacey. Recognizing the challenges of building a program like Elevating Connections from the ground up, Stacey knew she had to build her leadership skills. “One of the things that stood out from the very first session in Florissant and has stuck with me since, is the very big difference between a manager and a leader. I went into ALTP thinking I had pretty strong leadership skills. No, no, no. I had management skills.”

people stepping across stones in a river

The Gift of Uncertainty-Oh No! Not another learning experience.

by Judy Baxter, MA, Associate Clinical Professor, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, School of Medicine, Barbara Davis Center
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How are you with uncertainty? In the last 2 months we, I think to a person, are staring deep into the well of uncertainty. It is filled with questions, unknowns and change not only for ourselves but for everyone close to us and in our community, our state, our country, our world. PANUNCERTAINTY

Though in focus now, the nature of living has this essential aspect of constant change and therefore uncertainty. To quote Pema Chodron:

“As human beings we share a tendency to scramble for certainty whenever we realize that everything around us is in flux. In difficult times the stress of trying to find solid ground—something predictable and safe to stand on—seems to intensify. But in truth, the very nature of our existence is forever in flux. Everything keeps changing whether we’re aware of it or not.” From Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, 2012.

Change and the accompanying uncertainty, often occurs at a micro level, where it is with hindsight we come to terms with what has changed. Yet we work really hard to ignore this fundamental element of life, to as Pema says, find solid ground. In times like this, when change and uncertainty are in our face and hard to ignore, the discomfort shows up in all kinds of ways–including but not limited to neurotic behaviors, anxiety, and habits from over drinking to over exercising. These reactions are a way of escaping, ignoring or denying the reality of an uncertain future. These auto responses, can frequently cause more problems than the uncertainty they were designed to keep at bay. There are other, more constructive responses to uncertainty though often we are less practiced with these.

stacked wood blocks with words imprinted on the side

Where are you putting your Focus and Attention?

by Franco Marini, MA, CNL, Adjunct Professor, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver

It’s a beautiful day outdoors and I’m enjoying the peacefulness that I feel around me even through the crazy environment that’s out there all around us. What are you focusing on today? Right now?

I am noticing today that it appears to me that the volume is turned up on everything in my life. It’s as if the speakers of life, that everything comes through, are ramped up. When I think about the pain and suffering that’s going on in the world, I feel it more intensely. When I focus on family and friends, my love for them seems a bit deeper than usual. Last night, Kay, my wife, and I watched a Russell Peters comedy show from Toronto, and even though I have always thought Russell was funny, last night he was funnier than I ever remember him.

Joseph Badalpour

Accounting Supervisor, Jefferson County Public Health
Term ends: 12-31-22

Joe Badalpour is the Senior Accounting Supervisor at Jefferson County Public Health and has been in this role since 2013. He finds that he best serves others from an administrative role while crafting a message and a strategy buried in the numbers. His passion and dedication extend through the programs he supports by ensuring that resources are supported, contracts are not overly burdensome, and regulatory compliance remain in sight.

Mr. Badalpour earned his Masters in Business Administration and his Masters of Science in Accounting from the University of Colorado at Denver. His studies included abroad courses in China, Venezuela and the United Kingdom. He graduated from the RIHEL Advanced Leadership Training Program in 2019. He is a proud father of four very energetic young boys and husband to a very patient wife. He enjoys running marathons, fishing and catching any Chicago Cubs game.

Jim Beaudry

Special Projects Coordinator to the President, Craig Hospital

Term ends: 12-31-22

Jim Beaudry has nearly 30 years of experience in health care and health services and policy research as a researcher, administrator, and business leader. Prior to joining Craig Hospital, he established a successful consulting practice and held multiple leadership roles in Kaiser Permanente Colorado (KPCO) from 2009-2018, where he served as Director of Community Benefit & Relations and Senior Director of Business Operations and Strategy for KPCO Government, External Relations & Research. He also was Director of Research Administration at KPCO’s Institute for Health Research.

Before joining Kaiser Permanente, he held a variety of research, programmatic, and administrative positions at the University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus over a period of 17 years. His work focused on improving the quality of care provided to individuals in long-term care settings, including contributing to the development of the Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS), which, since 1999 has been used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to monitor and improve the quality of care delivered to home health care patients throughout the United States. Jim also served as the program manager for the CCTSI Community Engagement core and PACT Council as well as finance administrator for the overall CCTSI program. He later returned to serve as a PACT Council member and Chair of the Council.

Jim and his wife, Amber, grew up in San Diego and have lived in the Denver area since 1992. They have two children (one recent CU Boulder grad and another studying there). Jim loves hiking and bike riding and enjoys listening to his collection of music on vinyl, CDs, and cassettes on vintage stereo equipment that he restores.

Chrissy Chard, PhD

Director, Advanced Leadership Training Program, Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership

Dr. Chrissy Chard (she/her) is the incoming director of RIHEL’s Advanced Leadership Training Program. Between 2015-2022 she was a professor in the department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University, as well as with the Department of Community and Behavioral Health with the Colorado School of Public Health. Her public health practice and research interests include physical activity, self-esteem and body image in adolescent girls, as well as tailoring programming using Community-based Participatory Research. Dr. Chard has a strong interest in uncovering the ways that racism, structural bias, and social inequities continue to impact health disparities, as well as a commitment to exploring and disrupting how whiteness and white supremacy show up in public health. Dr. Chard has taught various graduate courses including Social and Community Factors in Health, Public Health Leadership, and Foundations of Anti-Oppressive Public Health Practice and Research.

She also co-founded and runs a non-profit organization for middle school students called Smart Fit Girls, which is dedicated to supporting the social, emotional and physical health and well-being among adolescents. Most recently, Chrissy has also begun a parent coaching practice, whereby she supports and guides parents to show up as the conscious and intentional parents they want to be.

Originally from Denver, she has many years of experience in health behavior change and wellness coaching. She deeply values her close community of family and friends, as well as moving her body in ways that feel good. She loves spending time with her partner and three kiddos, Lucy, Jack and Jordan.


Dawn Paepke

Senior Specialist Community Health & Engagement
Term ends: 12-31-22

Dawn Paepke is a Senior Specialist in Community Health & Engagement with Kaiser Permanente in northern Colorado. Dawn has over 20 years of experience working in leadership roles for nonprofits, in fundraising, marketing, sponsorships, grants, and management. Social justice, equity, and access to affordable health care are important to Dawn and she’s fortunate to do this work through her role at Kaiser Permanente. Dawn has a Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, is a 2017 ALTP graduate, and is working on a second Bachelor’s degree in sociology from Colorado State University. Dawn has been in Colorado since 1993, enjoys volunteering, reading, live music, running, and community development work. She’s also a disc jockey at 105.5 The Colorado Sound, a public radio station in northern Colorado.

Andrew Yale

Administrative Director, Public Health Institute at Denver Health
Term ends: 12-31-24

Andrew Yale is the Administrative Director for the Public Health Institute at Denver Health (PHIDH) and has over 23 years of experience working in healthcare. He relishes the variety of experiences his various positions have offered and is dedicated to, and thankful for, the wonderful staff at PHIDH. Andrew is widely known for his robust financial skills and empathetic people skills and uses both in working with diverse teams and individuals to uplift and drive new initiatives. He has served on numerous committees to successfully rollout new strategies and plans of action for both clinical and non-clinical programs within PHIDH and Denver Health. Andrew is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from Naropa University.

Andrew was born and raised in Gunnison, CO and completed his undergraduate work in Bemidji, MN. Although he’s lived in the ‘coldest spots’ in the country, he prefers warmer weather activities and enjoys hiking, biking, and strolling through the Botanical Gardens. He and his husband, Troy, also enjoy home remodeling projects, of which there are many in their century old Denver home.

Melissa Toledo-Ontiveros

Director of Thriving Families Community Action Agency Southern New Mexico
Term ends: 12-31-24

Melissa Toledo-Ontiveros, MA, MCJ, MPA is Director of Thriving Families at Community Action Agency Southern New Mexico where she developed a hybrid mentorship/navigating program. Working through a systemic approach to break down barriers and support families in meeting their goals. Melissa’s contract work includes working with the State of NM’S TUPAC Department and JEDI leadership work with Constellation inc. Melissa’s leadership and experiences range from various direct service roles: Department of Health, Health Promotion program manager, overseeing eight counties in New Mexico’s SW Region; case manager at YDI’S gang intervention and prevention program, school counselor at Van Buren Middle School, mental & behavioral therapist, multi-systemic and problem sexual therapist at Families Youth inc.; developmental specialist, early childhood education, and registered behavioral technician at Aprendamos Intervention Team.

Boards Melissa serves on:

  • American Public Health Association (1. Climate and Health Equity Board and 2. Community on Social Responsibility Board)
  • NMFirst Executive Board
  • Chair of the LC3 Behavioral Health Coalition in Las Cruces
  • Co-Lead of the Housing Taskforce for the Resilience Leadership Collaborative, Ana Age Eight
  • New Mexico Public Health Environment Advisory
  • Presbyterian Health Community Health Advisory
  • Moms Demand Action among other boards working on building healthy communities in New Mexico and US
  • Roslyn Reese

    Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Alzheimer’s Association
    Term ends: 12-31-24

    Rosalyn serves as the Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the Alzheimer’s Association. Rosalyn strategically supports five regional chapters with a focus on advancing health equity through community partnership and engagement in diverse communities. Alzheimer’s disease is a public health crisis. The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Rosalyn earned an undergraduate degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix, and Master’s certificate in Health Policy from the University of Denver. She graduated from RIHEL’s Advanced Leadership Training Program in 2008.

    Valerie Quintana

    MA, PTP
    Director of Community & Clinical Linkages at Community Healthy Presbyterian Healthcare Services
    Term ends: 12-31-24

    Valerie V. Quintana, MA, PTP is the Director of Community & Clinical Linkages at Community Health, with Presbyterian Healthcare Services.  Her skills are proficient in the psychology of human interaction and human communication. They have been instrumental in the implementation of Change Theory within healthcare systems by strengthening and developing relationships, facilitating collaborations, ensuring clear communication, and building consensus. Valerie orchestrates linkages between Presbyterian, FQHCs, and community wellness programs to create a shared operations model that improves access to nutritional food and safer physical activity opportunities for Hispanic, Latin, and Native American residents of Bernalillo County. She is leading a team that is building out the Community Health Worker and Peer Support Specialist models, as Presbyterian strengthens how it addresses health related social needs and behavioral health.

    Valerie was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has a Master’s Degree of Arts, in Communication Studies from NMSU. With fifteen years of experience in the field of behavioral health, she created her own business providing on-site wholistic care for social workers. Valerie is an award-winning Rosary Artist who is Internationally Certified as a Polarity Therapy Professional. She holds certifications in Herbalism, Essential Oils, and Cranial Sacral Therapy.

    Victoria O’Malley

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, University College, University of Denver
    Term ends: 12-31-23

    Victoria O’Malley is a senior marketing and branding leader with 10+ years of higher education experience working to ensure brand promises align with experiences. She currently serves as the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at the University of Denver’s college of continuing and professional studies – University College. With marketing experience in non-profit, B2B, and B2C environments, Victoria has served as a freelance marketing consultant, adjunct faculty, and curriculum developer. Victoria earned her doctorate from Northeastern University in 2020 and has research interests in branding, student satisfaction, and online education.

    Richard J. Marquez

    Program Manager, Latino Coalition for Community Leadership
    Term ends: 12-31-23

    Rich Marquez is a Program Manager with the Latino Coalition for Community Leadership. He provides organizational capacity building and technical assistance to community-based and faith-based organizations in marginalized communities whose services meet the needs of individuals and families. Prior to joining the Latino Coalition for Community Leadership in 2021, Rich worked in the Primary Care Office at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment where he administered the Colorado Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. Rich participated in RIEHL’s Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP) in 2018. Rich served as an ALTP fellows coach in 2019 and 2020 and is a member of RIHEL’s 2021 Coaching Academy. He received a bachelor’s degree in Chicano Studies from the University of California Berkeley in 1997 and a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Northern Colorado in 2003.

    Gordon Duvall

    Medical Operations Coordinator
    Term ends: 12-31-23

    Gordon Duvall is a Doctor of Nursing Practice and Medical Operations Coordinator for the State of Colorado Division of Youth Services. He also serves as Community Research Liaison for the University of Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute’s Partnership for Academicians and Communities in Translation which mission is to transform the way communities and researchers work together to design and conduct research.

    Gordon is also Didactic & Clinical Faculty at the Platt College School of Nursing, where he teaches core nursing classes as well as instruction in clinical settings, provides mentorship to nursing instructors and identifies and provides clinical experiences to nursing students in the Denver Metro area. He also works as a consultant to provide education, facilitation and public speaking on health, safety and fatherhood.

    Among many services and contributions to the community, Gordon is a member of 100 Black Men of Colorado, the founder of Denver Public Schools Mentorship Program, and is a licensed minister in the Restoration Christian Fellowship in Aurora, Colorado.

    Djuana Harvell

    PhD, MS
    Director, Special & Innovative Projects, The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities
    Term ends: 12-31-23

    Dr. Djuana Harvell is the Director of Special and Innovative Projects at the The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities within the be well Health and Wellness Initiative (be well). Within be well, Djuana leads health advocacy programs in collaboration with diverse stakeholders and leverages her background as a research scientist to think creatively, deliver project management, strategic planning, and implementation of key be well projects and programs

    A recognized leader in her community, Djuana serves on the Partnership of Academicians and Communities for Translation Council as Vice-President. She also serves on the Board Directors for Girls, Inc. of Metro Denver and the Executive Board of the Denver Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, a public service organization. Her focus is advancing educational opportunities and inspiring others to break through limiting beliefs, creatively solve problems, and achieve beyond expectations. Djuana is a graduate of the Inaugural class of the Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership (RIHEL) Coaching Academy and a graduate of the class of 2018 RIHEL Advanced Leadership Training Program and Healthy Community Design Program. She graduated from Clark Atlanta University with a B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry and earned a Ph.D. in Pathology and Microbiology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

    Jeff Lara

    Interim Division Director-Public Health Division, New Mexico Department of Health
    Term ends: 12-31-23

    Jeff Lara is the Interim Director of the Public Health Division of the New Mexico Department of Health, and Deputy Division Director for Regions. Jeff has immersed himself as a Public Health advocate for over 25 years in the great state of New Mexico. Jeff has served in multiple leadership roles within the New Mexico Department of Health for 17 years. Currently, he provides the Public Health Division strategic leadership, direction and management. He oversees Public Health programming statewide and implements Public Health activities across the state for 52 local public health offices. Most recent activities have included coordinating COVID-19 response which includes testing, case investigations, contact tracing, pharmacy activities and developing a plan for COVID-19 immunization.

    Jeff is a 2004 graduate of the Advanced Leadership Training Program. He gained useful tools from the program that he incorporated into his daily work habits. Jeff enjoys working in his community to make a difference in the lives of people. He is also a football fanatic cheering on his team to victory. Go Chiefs!

    Lucille Johnson

    MA, PhD(h)
    CEO, Affinity Consulting Services, LLC
    Term ends: 12-31-22

    Lucille Johnson is an accomplished public health consultant dedicated to mission-driven results supporting well-being and healthy lifestyle behaviors by building social capital through community outreach, engagement, education, training, research and advocacy.

    She served as an executive with the Center for African American Health for fifteen years before founding Affinity Consulting Services, LLC, of which she is CEO.

    Lucille holds an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Public Service from the Denver Institute of Urban Studies and Master of Arts in Psychology and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degrees from Regis University, and is an alumna Fellow of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation’s Livingston Fellowship Program.

    For the past 10 years, Lucille served as a PACT Community Research Liaison establishing working partnerships between academic researchers and individuals within community. Additionally, as an advisory board member, trainer and curriculum developer for the Center for Public Health Practice’s Patient Navigator Training Collaborative, she collaborates with colleagues on the development, education, standardization and sustainability of the growing patient navigation workforce.

    Lucille is a 2002 graduate of the Advanced Leadership Training Program. As a fellow in that program she advanced a significant community health project that resulted in markedly increased physical activity among persons in African American communities in the Denver Metro area and Colorado Springs.

    Umit Kaya

    Co-founder & CEO
    Kaia Corp
    Term ends: 12-31-21

    Umit has been delivering technology innovations for over 17 years. He holds BS in Engineering, MS in Computer Science; certified in PMP, CPHIMS, ITIL, Agile-Scrum Master; and completed Leadership Strategies for Information Technology in Health Care Program at Harvard University School of Public Health. After working for the University of Colorado Health Science Center as technology solution manager and Kaiser Permanente as a project manager he co-started his own technology consulting company, Kaia Corp. He has also co-founded the family business Happy Ladybug Early Learning Center and leading the employee ownership transition. Umit is a 2009 graduate of the Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership’s Advanced Leadership Training Program and served as a coach in the following year.

    Micah L. Jones

    In-house Counsel, Director of Compliance
    Term ends: 12-31-21

    Micah Jones is in-house counsel and serves as the Director of Compliance at Contexture, the umbrella organization of two Health Information Exchanges (Arizona’s Health Current and Colorado’s CORHIO). Contexture’s mission is “Advancing individual and community health and wellness through the delivery of actionable information and analysis.”

    Before joining Contexture, Micah served Coloradans as the Medicaid Health IT Coordinator with the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (Colorado Medicaid). There he managed Colorado Medicaid’s HIT and Health Information Exchange and Colorado Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. He also served as a subject matter expert for Colorado Medicaid’s criminal justice-involved and homeless population programs. Before working for the state, Micah was in private practice as a health care attorney for Miles & Peters, PC.

    Micah received his law degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder. When he’s not working, Micah enjoys working out, reading, traveling, Twitter, and spending time with his partner, Bruce, and their dog, Katie.