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Reggie Bicha, MSW, was appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper as Executive Director of CDHS in 2011. He is a social worker, administrator, educator and national leader. Bicha has extensive experience working on child welfare, education, employment and health issues at the county, state and national levels. Before moving to Colorado, Reggie served as the Inaugural Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Bicha is the Immediate Past President of the American Public Human Services Association governing board. And in 2012, he was selected for the Ascend Fellowship, sponsored by the prestigious Aspen Institute, to focus on approaches to move children and parents beyond poverty.
Anthony Gherardini, MPA, is the Deputy Executive Director of Operations. Since March 2017, Gherardini has overseen the day-to-day operations of the Department in his capacity as Chief of Staff. The Offices and Divisions under his purview include the Office of Administrative Solutions, the Office of Performance and Strategic Outcomes, three Regional Centers, four Colorado Veterans Community Living Centers, the Division of Youth Corrections, and two Mental Health Institutes. Gherardini has worked at the Department since June 2014 and had served as the director of the Office of Administrative Solutions (OAS) since February 2016. As the director of OAS, he was responsible for overseeing CDHS’ internal operations, including employee relations, business technology, facilities management, and finance and accounting. From 2014 to 2016, Gherardini was the Department’s Emergency Manager. In that role, he worked to establish continuity of operations and served as the lead of emergency preparedness activities.
Jerene Petersen is the Deputy Executive Director for Community Partnerships. Petersen is responsible for operational oversight of the external entities and agencies with whom the Department contracts and partners. She provides supervision for the Office of Children, Youth and Families; Office of Economic Security; Office of Early Childhood; Aging and Adult Services Division; Office of Behavioral Health Community Programs; County Services; and Client Services/Controlled Correspondence. Petersen recently served as the Vice Chair of the State Board of Human Services. She came to CDHS from Mile High United Way, where she was the Chief Program Officer. Previously, she served at Denver Human Services, where she led implementation of the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, and restructured the way in which city government collaborated with nonprofits to promote a broader collective impact in the community. She also served as executive director of Urban Peak, a nationally recognized nonprofit serving homeless and runaway youth.
Alicia Caldwell, MSJ, is the Deputy Executive Director of Legislative Affairs and Communications. She is responsible for the direction and leadership for the Department’s communication and legislative strategy. Caldwell also is charged with developing and coordinating plans for CDHS to foster, improve, and maintain positive and mutually effective relationships with legislators, while also cultivating long- and short-term communications strategies. She provides oversight of the Division of Boards and Commissions, the State Board
Administrator, and legislative and communications personnel. Caldwell previously served as the Department’s Director of Communications.
Katie McLoughlin is the Chief Legal Director. She is responsible for overseeing the legal functionings of the Department and partnering with the Attorney General’s office on legal strategy. Katie served Governor Hickenlooper’s office as Deputy Legal Counsel from 2015-2018. As Deputy Legal Counsel, she provided legal advice on the constitutionality and policy implications of legislation with a focus on education, health care and criminal justice issues. Katie advised the Governor on numerous judicial appointments and counseled the Governor’s Senior Staff and cabinet on contracts, ethics, adherence to the Colorado Open Records Act, and executive orders and actions. Before joining the Governor’s office, Katie was a litigation associate with Cooley, LLP in Boston and a Judicial Clerk for the Honorable William G. Young of the United States District Court in Massachusetts.
Melissa Wavelet, MPA, is the Director for the Office of Performance and Strategic Outcomes. She has been responsible since December 2013 for the Department’s approach to performance management (C-Stat), its $2.2 billion budget, and quality assurance, audit and two-generation efforts. She previously worked for more than 25 years in the nonprofit and public sectors. Before moving to Colorado, Wavelet oversaw quality assurance and performance management at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, and for the 15 previous years, focused on workforce development in New York City as an Assistant Commissioner overseeing the federal Workforce Investment Act for the City of New York, a researcher for MDRC, a grant maker at the Ford Foundation, and a manager at a south Bronx nonprofit.
Mary Anne Snyder is the Director of the Office of Early Childhood. Since 2012, she’s overseen in her role the administration of child-care licensing and subsidy programs, quality initiatives, early intervention, child maltreatment prevention, home visitation, mental health programs, and Head Start. The Office provides effective and efficient service delivery for families of young children, striving to improve kindergarten readiness, increase early literacy, prevent child abuse and neglect, and treat early‐identified developmental. Previously, Snyder was the executive director of the Wisconsin Children’s Trust Fund, served as the founding President of the Celebrate Children Foundation, and was a member of the Wisconsin Governor’s Advisory Council on Early Care and Education.
Mark J. Wester, MS, is the Director of the Office of Community Access and Independence. Wester has directed the operations of programs and facilities that assist veterans, the elderly and individuals with disabilities since November 2015. OCAI is comprised of four divisions: Aging and Adult Services, Veterans Community Living Centers, Regional Centers, and Disability Determination Services. The OCAI Director takes the lead in providing policy, performance management, fiscal and administrative tools, and instruction to 64 county social services departments, five state veterans’ homes and three Regional Centers. Wester’s background prior to joining CDHS includes 15 years of progressive management experience in behavioral health, organizational development and Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services, including multi-site and multi-state leadership.
Dr. Robert Werthwein is the Director of the Office of Behavioral Health, holding the position since October 2017. Dr. Werthwein directs the operations and administrative oversight of the public behavioral health system including programs consisting of mental health and substance use community programs, as well as operation of the Colorado Mental Health Institutes at Fort Logan and Pueblo. The OBH Director also leads in providing policy, performance management, fiscal and administrative tools, and oversight to a large group of mental health facilities, treatment centers and clinics statewide. Dr. Werthwein earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Howard University. His training focused on the treatment of under-served populations and research of improved care delivery systems.
Minna Castillo Cohen is the Director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families, holding the position since November 2017. Ms. Cohen is responsible for directing the operations of programs and facilities that improve the safety, independence and well-being of Colorado’s children, youth and families. She will oversee OCYF’s three divisions -- Child Welfare, Youth Services and the Domestic Violence Program -- as well as the Colorado Juvenile Parole Board. She has served for 20 years in the nonprofit sector, with all of her work focused on serving children, youth and families. Castillo Cohen’s experience includes serving immigrant and refugee youth through prevention projects focused on substance use prevention, bicultural competence, identity development and mentoring; providing fiscal management and oversight of the quality improvement initiatives for early education classrooms across Denver; and building and maintaining relationships with community partners across sectors to understand and address current community needs, trends, and gaps in resources.
Ki'i Powell, Ph.D., is the Director of the Office of Economic Security. Powell directs the operations of programs that provide income, nutritional and support services to those in need, including child support services; Colorado Works (Colorado’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program); food and nutrition services (including Colorado’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program); and refugee services. Powell has worked with CDHS since 2010. Her previous roles were research and evaluation manager and Performance Management Director in the Division of Child Welfare, where she built and managed the CDHS performance management approach known as C-Stat. Prior to joining CDHS, Powell held research and evaluation roles with the Colorado Division of Mental Health Data and Evaluation and the Hawaii Department of Health’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division.
Sarah L. Sills, MPA, MSTC, is the Director of the Division of Budget and Policy. She has served in her current role since May 2014. Sills directs the development of the Department's operating and capital budgets. The Division serves as the primary point of contact for OSPB and the JBC. Sills’ background prior to serving in her current role included positions as the Department’s Legislative Liaison, Government Affairs Manager at Denver Health and Hospital Authority, Budget Analyst for Gov. Ritter, and a Policy Analyst at the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.
Sarah Wager, CPA, is the Interim Director for the Office of Administrative Solutions. She is responsible for overseeing the Department’s internal operations, including employee relations, business technology, facilities management, finance and accounting, and risk management. Before joining OAS as Deputy Director in July 2016, Sarah served as Deputy Director of the Office of Community Access and Independence for two and a half years, where she provided direction and leadership to six divisions, including State and Veterans Nursing Homes, Aging and Adult Services, Disability Determination Services, Regional Centers, Developmental Disability Services and Vocational Rehabilitation. She came to CDHS with more than 18 years of experience in analyzing and improving performance for state government agencies in Colorado as a legislative Audit Manager for the Colorado Office of the State Auditor. Her experience included evaluating efficiency, effectiveness and compliance with government regulations throughout State agencies and programs.
Laura Morsch-Babu, MPP, is the Director of Communications. She is responsible for the Department’s communications strategic planning and overseeing all communications efforts. She also serves as the Department’s public information officer. Prior to joining CDHS, Morsch-Babu held communications roles in the public and private sectors, most recently as director of public affairs for a federally funded start-up health insurance cooperative. Her background also includes roles at the U.S. Department of State, and at Mercer, a leading human resources consulting firm, where she created and executed communication strategies for clients that focused on workforce needs.
Riley Kitts has served as the Legislative Liaison since November 2016. He is responsible for managing the department’s legislative unit and coordinating with executive leadership on the development of its legislative agenda. The position develops and recommends strategies by assuring alignment with the initiatives of the Governor’s Office and approval from the Executive Management Team. He was previously the department’s legislative analyst. Prior to joining CDHS, Kitts served in various roles for the Speaker of the House and House Majority Office at the Colorado General Assembly.
The CDHS Office of Administrative Solutions (OAS) is a support unit that provides services to help our program areas achieve their goals. OAS provides accounting, contracting and procurement services for a budget in excess of $2 billion. OAS provides financial reporting for dozens of unique programs, and payroll services for over 5,700 employees as well as maintaining more than 330 buildings and 3.7 million square feet of property. OAS serves a variety of clients from the older adults of Colorado to the youth of Colorado, including: persons with disabilities; persons committed to state care; persons with behavioral health issues; and the men and women in our Veterans Community Living Centers.
Divisions within OAS include:
The Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) is responsible for policy development, service provision and coordination, program monitoring and evaluation and administrative oversight for the Colorado public behavioral health system. OBH funds, supports and monitors numerous mental health and substance abuse community programs and providers, and reviews and designates the State’s providers, including emergency behavioral health services and the state crisis hotline. OBH also operates the Colorado Mental Health Institutes at Fort Logan and Pueblo. OBH executes the state’s federal responsibilities as the State Mental Health Authority and the State Substance Abuse Authority for the purposes of administering federal mental health and substance abuse block grant funds.
OBH includes these divisions:
The Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) shares the CDHS vision for the people of Colorado to be safe, healthy and prepared to achieve their greatest aspirations.
Collaborating with partners, OCYF's mission is to design and deliver high-quality human and health services that improve the safety, independence and well-being of Colorado’s children, youth and families.
OCYF includes these Divisions:
Download organizational charts for all divisions and programs in the Office of Children, Youth and Families
On December 20, 2016, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) named Anders Jacobson the new director of the Division of Youth Services (DYS) in the Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF). He has served as interim director since September 2016.
Jacobson has worked in the juvenile justice field for 21 years, with 20 of those years spent in leadership roles at residential units and facilities operated by the state and in the private sector. He was named the associate director of DYS in September 2013.
“Anders is an exceptional leader and brings extensive knowledge from his more than two decades of experience,” said Robert Werthwein, Ph.D., director of OCYF. “Anders places high regard on the welfare for youth, families and staff. He has a strong vision for the Division of Youth Corrections’ path of excellence.”
As the director of DYS, Jacobson has complete oversight of the division’s advanced service delivery system, with a strong focus on outcomes and cross-system partnerships to ensure quality services are provided to youth in the division’s care. He is also responsible for relationships with community residential and non-residential providers and juvenile justice stakeholders, including judicial and legislative relationships.
Throughout his career, Jacobson has developed strong networks within the juvenile justice arena and has facilitated data tracking to ensure that expected outcomes are obtained.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to continue to move Colorado juvenile justice in a positive direction and to work collaboratively with partners inside and outside the division to provide the best services possible to the youth and families we serve,” Jacobson said.
Download Division of Youth Services Organization Chart
Oversight and management of the State’s 10 secure facilities is located within the Division’s Central Office. Direct facility supervision is provided by two Directors of Facility Operations. Central Administration also includes management and oversight of Education, Clinical and Medical Services, Food Services, Quality Assurance and Assessment Services. Research, Capital and Financial Services, Restorative Justice Services, Communication and Client Services are also administered from the Central Office.
The Division regionalized its administration of pretrial services and established regional offices with staff capable of providing case management and parole supervision of each youth committed from the region. Through this process, the Division established an over-arching case management system, assigning a “Client Manager” to each youth at commitment. The Client Manager guides the youth’s case plan and eventually assumes the role of the youth’s parole officer. The following management regions exist: Central, Northeast, Southern, and Western. These four management regions are responsible for the general administration of regional contracts, monitoring of residential and non-residential programming, coordination and collaboration with community agencies, participation in community collaborative management programs, the provision of client management and parole services and the local oversight of Senate Bill 91-94 programs.
The Office of Community Access and Independence (OCAI) fosters independence to Coloradans through access to seamless and responsive personalized service. OCAI focuses on services and programs benefiting older adults, people with disabilities, and veterans requiring assisted living care.
Divisions within OCAI include:
The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) provides collaborative leadership to align resources for children, families and early childhood professionals to best prepare Coloradans for future success, through access to coordinated and quality early childhood programs and family supports. The OEC aligns itself with the goals set forth in the Early Childhood Colorado Framework to ensure all children are valued, healthy and thriving.
Divisions within OEC include:
The Office of Economic Security (OES) provides income, nutritional and support services to those in need.
Divisions within OES include:
Legislative Affairs and Communication is the link between CDHS and the Colorado legislature. This team also oversees media relations, public information, boards and commissions management and the State Board of Human Services.
The Office of Performance & Strategic Outcomes (OPSO) is responsible for conducting reviews and analyses to provide CDHS leadership with diverse independent perspectives to solve challenges and improve performance.
Divisions within OPSO include:
Visit the Office of Performance and Strategic Outcomes page to learn more about OPSO's organization and services.