Leora Joseph OBH

Leora Joseph, new director of the Office of Behavioral Health, Colorado Department of Human Services. Photo courtesy CDHS.

The Colorado Department of Human Services announced Monday that Leora Joseph has been named director of the Office of Behavioral Health.

The office was reconfigured after the legislature set up a new Behavioral Health Administration, which went into effect July 1. Previously, the OBH had oversight over community behavioral health services, including the Community Mental Health Centers that generated controversy over no-bid contracts and failure to provide the services for which they were paid. The community centers are now under the Behavioral Health Administration.

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The Office of Behavioral Health, which is outside the BHA, has oversight over the state's two mental health institutes at Pueblo and Fort Logan as well as Forensic Services. Joseph will lead the office in diversifying programs and settings "to serve clients’ individual needs and in providing timely services to get to the right outcomes sooner," according to a CDHS statement.

“We thought long and hard about the qualities of a new director that would best serve the needs of the community, patients and OBH,” said CDHS Executive Director Michelle Barnes. “Leora shares CDHS’s passion for providing patient-focused and community-centered services, and I know those we serve will be positively impacted by her leadership. Leora’s experience will be vital to our compliance with the consent decree and our success in helping Coloradans thrive.”

Joseph's arrival comes as the state "is investing historic amounts of funding to increase capacity by building and renovating new facilities, including adding psychiatric inpatient and residential capacity for youth and adults, and transitioning patients to lower levels of care in their communities," the CDHS statement said.

"We are ushering in a new era of behavioral health care, and we know that one size does not fit all in terms of the services we provide,” said Joseph. “We have an incredible opportunity to build on our services that meet the needs of individuals, families and communities.”

Joseph comes to OBH from the Auraria Higher Education Center, where she served as general counsel and chief administrative officer for the past 15 months. She previously served two stints as managing chief deputy district attorney in the 18th Judicial District, and in-between as chief of staff to Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. She also spent 18 years in the Suffolk County, New York district attorney's office. She earned a law degree from McGill University in Canada and a bachelor's degree from Columbia University.

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