Center Director/Project Manager

Tonya M. Louis, MSW, LMSW

(Acoma Pueblo)

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Tonya M. Louis, MSW, 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 BH2I Program Manager with SSI. 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 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 PI and PD for various SAMHSA, IHS, BIA, and CDC 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.

Tonya Louis

Training and Technical Assistance Manager

Denise Middlebrook, Ph.D.

(Crow and Northern Cheyenne descendant)

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Dr. Denise Middlebrook has worked in the field of American Indian community behavioral health for nearly 30 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 Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research. In 2000, she joined the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), where she worked closely with American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) programs within the Center for Mental Health Services. 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 AI/AN communities. She was received the Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Surgeon General and 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 AI/AN communities, with special emphasis on behavioral health integration and suicide prevention. Denise serves as the Training and Technical Assistance Manager/Behavioral Health Practitioner for the IHS Behavioral Health Integration Initiative (BH2I) Program.

Denise Middlebrook

Evaluation Team

Gary Bess, Ph.D.

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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.

Gary Bess

Evaluation Team

Jim Myers, MSW

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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.

Jim Myers

Evaluation Team

Brenda Freeman, PhD

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Brenda Freeman lives in Reno, Nevada, and is a Professor of Counseling and Educational Psychology and an Extension Mental Health Specialist at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is honored to have had the opportunity to engage in providing program evaluation and technical assistance to American Indian/Alaska Native communities for more than 20 years, including working with integrated care for the past 5 years. Brenda earned her Doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision from the University of Wyoming and is a licensed mental health provider in two states with a specialty in grief and loss. She has authored more than 50 journal articles and monographs, several of which are related to American Indian/Alaska Native culture, mental health, and disparities in access to care and educational opportunities.


Brenda Freeman

Project Coordinator

Rachel Riley

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Rachel Riley is an enrolled citizen of the Pueblo of Acoma, located in New Mexico. She currently serves as a Program Coordinator for the IHS Behavioral Health Integration Initiative (BH2I) Program with Sister Sky Inc. Ms. Riley is also earning a Master of Social Work degree at New Mexico Highlands University with a concentration in clinical practice. She has spent the past 5 years working in the behavioral health and public health fields, engaging in program coordination, prevention, and health promotion work that serves tribal communities.

Upon entering the clinical field, Ms. Riley wishes to work with adolescents and children. She intends to center her clinical practice in ways that promote trauma-informed approaches, culturally relevant interventions, and community-based practices. As a result of her experiences, Ms. Riley holds a strong passion for ensuring that individuals receive integrated behavioral health care that supports their needs and provides quality services.

Rachel Riley

BH2I Lead Primary Care Consultant

Dr. Anthony Fleg, MD

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Dr. Anthony Fleg is a family medicine physician at the University of New Mexico in the Department of Family & Community Medicine and the College of Population Health. Originally from Baltimore, MD, Dr. Fleg grounds his healing work in undoing racism, building health equity, and focusing on strengths and holistic health. He also serves as a Partnership Director of the Native Health Initiative (NHI), a love-grounded partnership, and has dedicated much of his career to improving health in Indigenous communities. He is a proud father of four children, an avid runner, and has recently written his first book, Writing to Heal - A Pandemic Journey to Healing.


BH2I Lead Behavioral Health Consultant

Dr. Cynthia E. Guzmán, Ph.D., MSCP

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Dr. Cynthia E. Guzmán is a licensed psychologist who has devoted her career to addressing health disparities in underserved communities, primarily in Indian Country. She has experience with program design, development, and implementation of programs that address co-occurring disorders as well as primary care/mental health integration. Aside from clinical work and the supervision of other trainees, Dr. Guzmán considers herself a servant leader and enjoys developing community assessments, policy and procedure writing, and implementing culturally safe interventions at the community level. Dr. Guzmán is a proud member of the American Psychological Association and the Society of Indian Psychologists, and she currently serves as the 2022 National Latinx Psychological Association Past President.


BH2I Interim Program Official

Ms. Audrey D. Solimon, MPS

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Audrey D. Solimon, MPH, is an enrolled tribal member of the Pueblo of Laguna and currently serves as a Public Health Analyst in the Division of Behavioral Health at the Indian Health Service (IHS) headquarters office in Rockville, MD, serving as a full-time teleworker based in Chicago, IL. She holds a bachelor of science in psychology and a master of public health from the University of New Mexico Department of Family & Community Medicine. Ms. Solimon has worked with American Indian communities on public health issues for more than 20 years in New Mexico, Washington, DC, and nationally, with a primary focus on national program management on various behavioral and public issues and access to health care. She currently serves as the National Program Coordinator for the Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention (SASP) and Domestic Violence Prevention (DVP) programs and provides national program management, leadership on program development, and coordination for regional technical assistance efforts for each of the 12 IHS Areas. Ms. Solimon will be serving as the interim BH2I federal program official for IHS DBH.