Boots on the Ground awards recently presented


VALLEY — The San Luis Valley Joint Interagency Oversight Group (SLV Joint IOG) is pleased to honor three partner agency staff members with the “Boots on the Ground” award in recognition of employees who exemplify the spirit of cross-systems collaboration.

The April 2017 award recipients are Clarissa Woodworth and Kimberly Bryant.

Clarissa is the director of communications & marketing for the San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group. The person who nominated her states, “Clarissa and collaboration go hand in hand. I have had the privilege of having Clarissa as a supervisor for three years but to me she is way more than that. Clarissa is more like a mentor who has been an extraordinary example of passion, compassion, encouragement, advocacy and hope. Clarissa is a pillar for all of us who are trying to work together to make changes in the work we do with families. She is an encourager and supporter for anyone who may come to her with barriers or concerns, working tirelessly with others to help find a solution and all with the utmost humility. Her keen sense to understand people and their struggles is a gift that has taught me so much in how to collaborate as a team. I often wonder how someone can have the energy it must take to be so in tune with so many of us that work with and for her. Then I remember that all that she does, truly, comes from the heart and it continuously renews my hope. Without people like Clarissa those of us working at ground level would not be able to keep moving forward to help families have a better quality of life. She is marching right along with us in this journey and at the end of the day she places her boots right next to ours.”

Kimberly is the coordinator for the San Luis Valley Public Health Partnership. The person who nominated her states, “Kimberly has been a tireless supporter of our local public health agencies – and more importantly of the work we do to meet the needs of the community.  She is constantly looking for ways to improve collaboration among systems within the San Luis Valley and to find resources, funding, and supports that can improve both public health capacity and resources for our region.  Systems-level work is hard and messy, and doesn’t happen quickly, but Kimberly is doggedly persistent and has the ability to still keep the individual needs in sight while working towards a goal.”

The June 2017 award recipient is Wendy Heminger.

Wendy is a clinician at the San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group. The person who nominated her states, “Wendy takes pride in her work and is open to learning and taking on any challenge. She has a great attitude and much empathy for the clients she serves. She keeps the best interest of the client at the forefront of her work and is dedicated to seeing them progress and heal from impairing symptoms. She is excited about learning and training. She works well in a team setting, always staffing, checking in and getting input from her co-workers. She is flexible and willing to help out where she can. She works with a wide variety of populations, diagnosis and ages in the North Conejos and Rio Grande County communities. She helps families reunite, use their natural resources and works together to utilize the skills they learn in treatment so that they are able to function in a non-violent, open, respectful manner on a day to day basis.”

Established in 2008, the SLV Joint IOG, funded through Colorado State House Bill 1451, currently includes Alamosa and Rio Grande Counties. More than 20 agencies participate in the SLV Joint IOG; the 12th Judicial District Probation Department and Senate Bill 94 Program, Alamosa County Department of Human Services, Alamosa County Public Health Department, Alamosa School District, Center for Restorative Programs, Colorado Division of Youth Corrections, Colorado Health Partnerships, Crossroads’ Turning Points, Del Norte School District, Monte Vista School District, Rio Grande County Department of Social Services, Teri Sisneros, Rio Grande County Family Representative, Rio Grande County Public Health Department, San Luis Valley Early Childhood Council, San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group, San Luis Valley BOCES, Sargent School District, Signal Behavioral Health Network, and Tu Casa.

The goal of the SLV Joint IOG is to develop collaborative approaches for the provision of individualized, strength-based, family-centered, and culturally sensitive services to children, youth, and families. The SLV Joint IOG works to increase the quality and appropriateness of services while encouraging cost sharing and reducing service duplication and fragmentation. 

For more information about the SLV Joint IOG, please visit, or contact Carrie Heltzel, director, at carrieheltzel

Captions: From left are Teri Sisneros, Family Support Partner, Collaborative Management Program/SLV Behavioral Health Group; Clarissa Woodworth, program director for the SLV Behavioral Health Group; Kimberly Bryant, project coordinator for the SLV Public Health Partnership; and Emily Brown, director, Rio Grande Public Health Department. Courtesy photos

From left are Luke Yoder, executive director for the Center for Restorative Programs; Wendy Heminger, clinician for the SLV Behavioral Health Group; and Amy Strasser-Garcia, clinical supervisor for the SLV Behavioral Health Group.