Romero replaces Martinez at helm of Behavorial Health

New Chief Executive Director at SLVBH Victoria Romero (seated) is joined by, from left, Laurie Rivera, Patrick Stanford, Richard Pacheco and Marcella Garcia. This courtesy photo is reprinted in the shape it was sent.

VALLEY– After 23 years of leading San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group (SLVBHG) to sustainable growth and state-wide partnerships, the agency’s Board of Directors formally announced Fernando Martinez’s departure as Chief Executive Officer

Fernando has served in the social justice field, including his role as Chief Probation Officer for the Eleventh Judicial District and director of an extensive provincial community corrections residential program for the Department of Corrections before his CEO role.  Fernando has served the community in the San Luis Valley in several capacities over the past two decades.  Fernando has aggressively modernized SLVBHG’s infrastructure, including purchasing property, to assure the organization’s services are available in each community throughout the San Luis Valley.

Victoria Romero, Chief Executive Director, is replacing Fernando at the agency’s helm. 

“It has been a pleasure to serve San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group as CEO,” said Fernando.

“The work done here is valued and undoubtedly makes an impact; the staff at SLVBHG not only saves lives, but they also help thousands of individuals have a higher quality of life every year.  I’m proud to have led this team for many years, but I am confident in Victoria’s ability to lead the agency to new heights.

“I have had the pleasure of following her professional development in various positions at the agency.  She has proven to be a critical thinker and a natural leader.  She has equally contributed to the agency’s expansion, and the fact that her roots are in the Valley makes it a proud moment for all who have had the opportunity to work with her.  Victoria is exceptionally capable of meeting the challenges coming to our industry.”

Victoria has been working in this capacity for several months, side-by-side with Fernando, to ensure a smooth leadership transition.  Victoria has dedicated 21 years to the agency and, before her promotion to Chief Executive Director, showed exceptional leadership as Chief Operations Officer for the organization.

The Board of Directors, specifically the chairperson, Laurie Rivera, said the following about Victoria’s promotion: “The SLVBHG Board of Directors unanimously approved the creation of the Chief Executive Director position and felt that Victoria was the right person to fill this role.  It provides Victoria, who brings with her years of experience, to work with all partners and staff at all levels, which will allow transition over time and will benefit the agency.  In addition, Victoria displays important characteristics that will help SLVBHG move forward in the ever-changing world of behavioral and mental health.”

Victoria has held several roles within San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group and has extensive experience providing overall fiscal supervision of projects and monitoring contractual procedures.  In addition, she has served as a vital community-minded partner to other local agencies to ensure that the San Luis Valley communities are adequately served.

“Victoria is a strong advocate for staff and clients.  In addition, she brings a wealth of clinical experience and community knowledge,” said a member of the SLVBHG executive team, Jennifer Silva, Chief Clinical Officer. 

Outside of her time with the Center, Victoria has also spent a significant portion of her career working in residential care and local hospitals.  Overall, she brings 27 years of experience in behavioral health to the agency.  As a native of the San Luis Valley, Victoria is active in many community initiatives and committees and has the complete confidence of the Board to bring many more years of growth, sustainability, and expansion to San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group. 

“I recognize that Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) are amidst a tremendous change in legislation, structure, and development.  I am honored to have the opportunity to lead San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group through this new chapter for CMHCs.  I look forward to increasing our presence in the community, expanding our collaborative partnerships, and using change to promote the agency’s forward momentum.”

Open communication and diligent commitment to the agency from both Fernando and Victoria will ensure that SLVBHG continues to progress toward its goals and advance its strategic plan.  In addition, other leaders within the organization are excited about Victoria’s succession.  “Victoria has foundational knowledge of the agency and the industry.  Additionally, she has the intelligence, willingness, and drive to navigate the agency into the ever-changing behavioral health landscape and lead with transparency and open communication,” said Leova Villalobos, Chief Clinical Officer.

Fernando is leaving the daily operations with Victoria Romero and the agency’s executive leadership team.  The Board of Directors, staff, ambassadors, funders, volunteers, partners, and supporters are all incredibly supportive of this transition and look forward to the new chapters of the agency.

Other members of the executive team, including Chief Information Officer Yolanda Lujan, Chief Human Resource Officer Toni Martin, and Chief Financial Officer Kyle Turnwall, are also fully supporting this transition.  “The behavioral health industry is going through so much controversy and change.  As a result, we must find new ways to accomplish the goals before us, and sometimes these goals seem like a moving target,” said Toni Martin.  “I believe that Victoria has been uniquely prepared to help the agency keep goals focused and lead us into the future.” 

Yolanda Lujan said that Victoria’s “effective collaboration with community partners precede her appointment,” and she’s “confident that Victoria will preserve the integrity of her new role and responsibilities.”

Fernando has led the organization through tremendous growth and delivered significant results in bringing accessibility to the communities of the San Luis Valley.  With the dedication and persistence of the SLVBHG leadership team, the agency intends to set its sights on even more growth and mission impact under the capable leadership of Victoria.

Please join SLVBHG in thanking Fernando for his dedication to behavioral health care and congratulating Victoria on her new role. 


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