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Behavioral Health Chief Steps Down

The director of the state's Behavioral Health Services Division is resigning. Diana McWilliams submitted her resignation letter on Monday, Dec. 16, and her last day is tomorrow. She'll be heading back east to Philadelphia to become the chief operating officer for a nonprofit behavioral health and child welfare organization, she said. 

Matt Kennicott, spokesperson for the Human Services Department, said a plan is still being formulated for finding McWilliams' replacement, and in the interim, a senior staffer will fill in.

In her letter, McWilliams said she is stepping down with "mixed emotions" and praises Secretary Sidonie Squier and the HSD staff. "I know change is challenging—but you've shown you can face it and deliver," she said. 

McWilliams was part of the team that traveled to Arizona in February—along with audit company PCG and OptumHealth—to meet with behavioral health providers who would eventually take over New Mexico's services. 

In a controversial move, the state's Human Services Department froze Medicaid funding to 15 behavioral health agencies at the end of June. Five Arizona companies were given no-bid contracts worth $17.85 million to take over New Mexico services. 

McWilliams is also stepping down from her position as the CEO of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative, an organization created by Gov. Bill Richardson in 2004 to: 

• Manage contracts

• Inventory spending on mental health and substance abuse

• Make decisions on funding

• Create a unified behavior health delivery system

• Prevent fraud and abuse

McWilliams has held both the CEO and director positions since July 2012. She's worked as the executive director of Solace Crisis Treatment Center in Santa Fe. She also served as a Democratic state representative in Delaware for two terms.

The executive director of Valle del Sol, one of the new providers, also resigned recently. Kathy Albrecht Turner was hired in late August. Valle del Sol is in the process of seeking her replacement. 


—Deborah Martinez contributed to this report

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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