Thanks for your patience as we developed our continuity plan for leadership in our Division of Behavioral Health.  I know you’re  all anxious to hear the transition plan for after Dr. Nelson leaves on August 24.  Fortunately, we are very lucky to have so many strong leaders here at the agency, including a really great team of DBHS Branch Chiefs and Bureau Chiefs.  Many of you will be key in helping to make this time period a success, and we’ll be looking to you to keep our great momentum going!

We’ve already posted the Deputy Director position and have had interviews underway for the Assistant Director position.  I think we’ll move smoothly with filling both of these positions permanently in the near future.  In the interim, I’ve asked Cory Nelson, AZ State Hospital CEO to serve as the Acting Deputy Director- and he’s agreed to help out.  Cory will spend the next three weeks working closely with Dr. Nelson and the rest of the team and should have no problem getting up to speed- as he’s a quick study.  This plan will offer a great opportunity to further strengthen our important link between the Hospital and the community-based behavioral health system.  It’ll also bring in additional people-power to DBHS during this incredibly busy time.  Cory has a great team at the Hospital as well and they’re up to the task of picking up some of Cory’s day-to-day work there.  Donna Noriega will be leading the team at the hospital as Acting CEO and will be working closely with the rest of the leadership team to make sure the great things happening there keep moving forward.

Some may ask why Bob Sorce, our fearless Assistant Director, has not been asked to serve as Acting Deputy Director. While Bob is very capable and no doubt would do a good job in that role, his current assignment in managing the Maricopa County RBHA RFP project is at a critical stage with the expected release of the RFP next month. Given the importance of this project, I am not willing to disrupt the positive momentum that has been building over the last several months by reassigning him to a different position.   Bob, along with the rest of the RFP Core Team must continue to spearhead  this important work as well as prepare for the monumental changes to health care that are expected on January 1, 2014 when federal healthcare reform is set to kick in.  Bob will also serve as back-up to Cory and assist whenever needed.  As I have previously said, we’ll continue with our mission as a team and I feel good about the team we have in place.

It’s nice to know that we have a strong team in place throughout the Agency- which gives me comfort that we’ll make it through this transition effectively.