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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 https://memories.lifeweb360.com/gerald-montoya 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
[image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SteppingStoneBoltonAbbey.jpg]

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.

Spotlight: Rick Coffin

What drew you to RIHEL originally?

I was originally drawn to RIHEL for several reasons. I heard stories from colleagues about how rewarding their RIHEL experiences were and I wanted to experience it for myself. I have a strong interest in personal and professional development and the Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP) seemed like a great learning opportunity as I would be exposed to a wealth of resources from the RIHEL faculty. I am also an environmental advocate and I looked forward to meeting my RIHEL cohorts from regional environmental and public health institutions. I am grateful that my employer, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, also sees the value in this opportunity and they are very supportive of sending staff to the ALTP.

What have you gained from your experience (as a fellow, volunteer, or coach) with RIHEL?

As a fellow I gained a deep understanding of myself, including how I react to certain situations and interactions and techniques that I can use to change any behavior that I was unhappy with. This was a powerful insight that had positive impacts in both my professional and personal life. I also gained a greater understanding of many other things, including emotional intelligence, mindfulness, professional communication (e.g., media training), and how to be effective in difficult situations. As a first-year coach I am enhancing my strategic thinking, communication, and development skills.

Spotlight: Stephanie Denning

Discover why Stephanie Denning, a graduate of the 2010 Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP) and a RIHEL Coach continues to choose RIHEL.

What drew you to RIHEL originally?
I was interested in participating in a program with a group of people who also wanted to learn and build their leadership skills. I had heard others talk about RIHEL and how much they enjoyed it, so I thought it would be fun and a great way to get to meet new people, while learning how to be a better “leader.”
Why is RIHEL important to you and the community?
We need leaders in the public and private sectors who are able to think critically about the complex and often divisive issues facing virtually all of our communities. These leaders need to be armed with the right technical, professional, and social/emotional skills to work across and within political, economic, social, cultural and geographic arenas to build policies and programs that create communities where everyone can thrive. RIHEL helps participants to develop these kinds of skills, pushes them to think bigger and go deeper, to challenge their cherished assumptions and be something more. RIHEL helps create the kind of leaders our communities need.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about sponsoring or donating to RIHEL?
Just Do It! I believe I gained tremendous personal and professional value and made amazing, lasting friendships through my experience through the ALTP. That value has grown exponentially as I have stayed connected with RIHEL through the Peer Coaching program. I’ve seen that same value manifested in others who have participated in the program and have supported fellows who I know also benefitted personally and professionally from their RIHEL experiences.

Physicians Encouraged to Shape Their Futures

In his letter published in the January edition of EyeNet, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Dr. Alan Kimura encourages physicians to shape their futures by shifting their “perception of health care reform and value-based care from externally imposed burdens to internally driven improvements.” He describes autonomy, mastery and meaning as the pillars of engagement with one’s work – all practical applications he derived from his experience in the Physician Leadership Skills Series presented by RIHEL to members of the Colorado Medical Society with funding from the Physicians’ Foundation. Kudos to Dr. Kimura for deriving strong practical and principled applications from the leadership lessons of the workshop, and for inspiring others with this letter!

Click here to read his letter.

RIHEL Gave Me Confidence to Run My First Marathon

Written by Rachel Jervis, Advanced Leadership Training Program Class of 2017

On May 5, 2017, I graduated from RIHEL’s Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP).

On October 15, 2017 I completed my first marathon.

The latter is a direct result of the first.

I’ve been a runner since moving to Colorado in 2007. Over the years I’ve completed numerous short and mid-distance races, including six half marathons. I never planned to run a marathon. I’d joke “I’m such a slow runner that I’d have to stop mid-race for a meal.” I feared injuring myself, abhorred the time commitment, and was dubious that I could physically complete a marathon even if I wanted to. In short, marathons held no appeal to me.

Fast-forward to April 2017, when I was in the homestretch of the RIHEL Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP). Since attending college in Boston, I find myself glued to Boston Marathon results and human-interest stories each Patriot’s Day. Unlike previous years, some part of my brain wondered if I could conquer 26.2 miles. In a row. I confessed this thought to a friend on a long run the following weekend. Having completed multiple marathons and a full ironman, she assured me that with proper training I could finish a marathon. That evening I thought, Maybe I should run a marathon.

RIHEL Alumna Provides Disaster Relief in Puerto Rico

Last September, Aimee Voth Siebert (Advanced Leadership Training Program 2014), was deployed to Puerto Rico to lead a team of 11 behavioral health responders who were providing much needed aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Aimee urges others to “please find ways to remind yourself of Puerto Rico now, in six months, in a year, and in five to 10 years

Vision for Superfund Site Comes Alive in Libby, MT

A RIHEL alumna’s vision for stakeholder engagement in the redevelopment of a recently completed Superfund Site comes to life in Libby, Montana.

For 18 years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been conducting asbestos cleanups in Libby, Montana as part of the Libby Asbestos Superfund Site. In September of 2016, the EPA determined that the 400-acre industrial park owned by the Lincoln County Port Authority was complete. As an EPA Remedial Project Manager assigned to the Libby Site, Dania Zinner chose to focus her RIHEL leadership project on the community planning efforts for this property. Dania’s vision, and the vision shared by her project partners, was to engage all stakeholders in a collaborative event to discuss the economic redevelopment of the Port Authority property, with the intention that these discussions would result in a long-term vision and action plan for the site.

Alumni Receive Awards at 2017 Public Health Conference

Please help us congratulate several members of the RIHEL family on their hard work and recent awards from the 2017 Public Health in the Rockies Conference. The purpose of this conference is to provide an opportunity for education, networking and skill development of the professionals in Colorado, Wyoming and neighboring regions, and to build a more competent public health workforce. The 2017 conference theme highlighted the ongoing importance of promoting health equity.

Spotlight: Carmen Martin

This month meet our Governing Board member Carmen Martin.

What is one of your favorite quotes?

“Communities and countries and ultimately the world are only as strong as the health of their women.” -Michelle Obama

Why is RIHEL important to you and the community?

RIHEL is important to me as a woman, as a woman of color, and as someone who lacked connections early in my public health career.

Local Paper Gives Nod to RIHEL Alumni

eagle-county-teamThe Vail Daily gives a nod to four RIHEL alumni for the visioning survey they conducted with residents of the town of Gypsum, Colorado. These four alumni, Katie Haas, John-Ryan Lockman, Jeff Pieper, and Kris Valdez, came together as an Eagle County Team to participate in our Leadership for Healthy Community Design (LHCD) Program. The survey was a part of their LHCD program community project to improve health and the environment through the built environment. Kudos to this group of dedicated alumni and community leaders!

Alumna Receives Recognition for ALTP Inspired Project

Aimee Voth Siebert (ALTP 2014) recently shared with RIHEL about some recognition she received for the leadership project that she seeded in her ALTP.

…[my RIHEL] leadership project is now blossoming in new and unexpected ways!  The project (mapping community inclusion indicators) received a very humbling recognition from the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network as a “promising practice” in emergency management that is inclusive of people with disabilities. …I thought it was high time that I reconnected, and added a story to the many others you have about how RIHEL is an empowering program that can do great things.

Honors & Awards to RIHEL Alumni

gold-starSeveral RIHEL Alumni and a former Board Member were recognized this fall at their annual professional conferences. Congratulations to you all! You make us proud!

Public Health in the Rockies 2014

Awards presented at the Public Health in the Rockies 2014 Annual Conference. Hosted this year by the Colorado Public Health Association (CPHA), the Colorado Society for Public Health Education (COSOPHE), the Public Health Nurses Association of Colorado (PHNAC), and the Wyoming Public Health Association (WPHA). Held in Fort Collins, Colorado on September 17-29, 2014. Download the Publich Health in the Rockies Awards Brochure.

New Mexico Alumna Receives Award!

duranyYolanda Duran, alumna of the ALTP Class of 2008, receives Supervisor of the Quarter award. Yolanda is the Data Management Bureau Chief at the New Mexico Department of Transportation, and was formerly employed at the New Mexico Department of Health as the Health Systems Preparedness Coordinator.

Congratulations Yolanda!

Six Folks in our RIHEL Family Receive Awards!


The 2013 Public Health in the Rockies Conference, a shared endeavor of the Colorado Public Health Association (CPHA), Colorado Society for Public Health Education (COSOPHE), and the Public Health Nurses Association of Colorado (PHNAC) in Breckenridge awarded “Gold Nuggets of Public Health” to six RIHEL faculty, board members, and alumni of the Advanced Leadership Training Program (ALTP) for their impact on the field of public health in Colorado. We are so proud of the work and outstanding examples of leadership each of the award winners demonstrates.

RIHEL Graduates and Friends Support PHNAC Winter Conference

rita-beam-phnac2014In the early part of each year, the Public Health Nursing Association of Colorado (PHNAC) holds an annual conference to educate and train public health nurses from across Colorado. This past February 19-20, PHNAC held their 2014 Annual Winter Conference for more than 80 public health nurses and other public health professionals at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Englewood, Colorado. We are pleased to acknowledge the RIHEL graduates and friends who contributed to this successful conference: