Center Director/Project Manager

Tonya M. Louis, MSW, LMSWTonya Louis

(Acoma Pueblo)

Direct/Cell: (509) 822-1113


Tonya M. Louis, MSW, LMSW, is an enrolled citizen of the Pueblo of Acoma, located in New Mexico. She has more than 15 years of behavioral health and public health experience at the tribal, federal, and state levels.

Currently, Ms. Louis is a Licensed Master Social Worker, serving in the capacity of Behavioral Health Integration Initiative (BH2I) Program Manager with Sister Sky Inc. She specializes in substance use and suicide prevention and community-based behavioral health. She is also certified in Native American Inspired Equine Psychotherapy.

Ms. Louis has extensive experience working with program development, adolescent/adult intervention processes, treatment interventions, and crisis response. She has also worked for the New Mexico Corrections Department in the capacity of Behavioral Health Director, the New Mexico Department of Health—Public Health, and the Pueblo of Acoma Health & Human Services Division as both the Clinical Director and Executive Director. She has extensive experience working with culturally appropriate behavioral health treatment, prevention, and intervention models. Ms. Louis works with various tribal and non-tribal service agencies and a wide range of clientele. She has served as the program director and principal investigator and for various Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Indian Health Service (IHS), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) awards. Her work also entails providing leadership in the delivery of culturally inclusive, community-based behavioral and public health services. Ms. Louis has participated in numerous tribal, federal, and state behavioral/public health task forces.

Ms. Louis deeply appreciates the importance of behavioral health care in primary care settings and has witnessed improved overall health outcomes for individuals as a result.  Her extensive experience as a practicing clinician gives her first-hand knowledge of both administration and patient/family needs.

Training and Technical Assistance Manager

Denise Middlebrook

Denise Middlebrook, Ph.D.

(Crow and Northern Cheyenne descendant)

Direct/Cell: (509) 993-2977


Dr. Denise Middlebrook has worked in the field of American Indian community behavioral health for nearly 25 years. After graduating with her doctorate from the University of Colorado in 1995, Denise began her career at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in the National Center for American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research. In 2000, she joined the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), where she worked closely with American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) programs within the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) branch. Denise became the Executive Director of the Intradepartmental on Native American Affairs in 2006. As the Director, she was the point of contact within the Department for coordination and consultation on health and human services issues affecting AIAN communities. She was awarded the distinguished service award by the U.S. Surgeon General and by IHS for her work with tribes.

Upon leaving federal service, she has continued to focus exclusively on issues pertaining to the health and wellbeing of AIAN communities. Denise serves as the Training and Technical Assistance Manager/ Behavioral Health Practitioner.

Evaluation Team

Gary Bess

Gary Bess, Ph.D.

Phone: (530) 877-3426, ext. 101


Gary Bess, PhD, Principal and CEO for Gary Bess Associates (GBA) and currently employed by SSI, will serve as Project Director II and will serve as lead for specific task orders. Dr. Bess founded GBA in 1991, and since that time the firm has provided consultation services for public and private health and human services organizations. The range of inter-related services provided includes program evaluation, needs assessment, grant writing, economic analysis, strategic planning, GIS Mapping, and applied research. GBA currently has several American Indian and Alaska Native programs, agencies and communities for which it is providing services, and historically, it has worked with numerous American Indian and Alaska Native clients across the western United States. GBA currently has evaluation contracts with tribes and clinics in northern and southern California, including the Mechoopda Tribe in Chico, San Diego American Indian Health Center, Santa Barbara American Indian Health Center, Quartz Valley Indian Health, Susanville Rancheria, and Seattle Indian Health Board. Dr. Bess holds masters’ degrees in social work and applied sociology, and a doctorate in social work from the University of Southern California. For several years he directed free medical clinics in California, and since 1991 he has consulted with community-based health and human services organizations through his company Gary Bess Associates.

Jim Myers, MSW

Jim Myers

Phone: (530) 877-3426


Jim Myers expertise is in program evaluation and applied research activities. As a macro practice social worker, he is experienced in survey development, data coordination, data organization and analysis, and development of interim and final reports. Mr. Myers teaches research and program evaluation in the School of Social Work at California State University, Chico. Jim has more than 15 years of experience providing evaluation services to American Indian and Alaska Native programs/agencies/clinics and communities. Mr. Myers was the evaluator for the Karuk Tribe, which a was a recipient of SAMHSA’s Circles of Care three year planning grant, and currently is leading evaluation projects with the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria, San Diego American Indian Health Center, and the Susanville Indian Rancheria, and through Gary Bess Associates, (GBA) is a subcontractor to SSI work on cross site evaluations funded by IHS on Integrated Behavioral Health Services and for ANA’s Native Language Community Coordination initiatives.  He has master’s degrees in social work from California State University, Chico and has taken doctoral courses in human and organization development.

Brenda Freeman, Ph.D.

Brenda Freeman


Dr. Freeman is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in the State of Idaho, a National Certified Counselor (NCC), and a tenured professor of Counseling and Educational Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Freeman served for 8 years on the State of Idaho Mental Health and Marriage and Family Therapy State Licensure Board, completed Level III Gottman training, and is a Certified Gottman Educator. Dr. Freeman has experience in clinical counseling, international student counseling, grief and loss counseling, and program evaluation consultation with American Indian/Alaska Native programs. Dr. Freeman is currently teaching counseling theories and assisting the counseling program with CACREP accreditation. She earned her Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Wyoming and has published over 50 journal articles, chapters, and monographs.

Integration Lead

Lori Raney

Lori Raney, M.D.


Dr. Lori Raney is a board-certified psychiatrist and Principal with Health Management Associates in Denver, Colorado. She is considered a leading authority on the collaborative care model and the bidirectional integration of primary care and behavioral health. Dr. Raney continues her clinical work with the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Service with the Ute Mountain Utes in Towaco, Colorado.

Dr. Raney served for 15 years as the medical director of a community mental health center, where she fostered the development of a full range of evidence-based services few of which include the development of a telepsychiatry program, working in and deploying psychiatric providers in correctional health settings, developing an inpatient psychiatric treatment unit, etc. She has worked for over 15 years with the Indian Health Service in clinics in the Southwest.