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About Us

Via Positiva consists of a cadre of executive level consultants, coaches and trainers throughout the

United States and Internationally led by Via Positiva CEO Sylvia Barela 

and our team of Senior Consultants and Advisors.

Sylvia Barela, MBA, serves as National Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, was born and                                                    raised in New Mexico. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology from New Mexico State University and a                                            Master's in Business Administration degree with a Healthcare Concentration from the University of Phoenix.                                        Sylvia has dedicated the last twenty years of her career to non-profit behavioral health with three residential                                        treatment facilities in Colorado and New Mexico. Simultaneously, she spent four years doing behavioral                                                health consulting for four New Mexico Behavioral Health Providers and helping them navigate Intensive                                              Outpatient Treatment certification with the State of New Mexico Human Services and Behavioral Health                                              Department. For the past sixteen years, Sylvia Barela has served in various leadership positions for the Santa Fe Recovery Center (SFRC), a statewide substance use disorder treatment program providing integrated care to a population with multifaceted behavioral health, mental health, and physical health disorders.  Most recently, between 2015 and 2022, Sylvia served as Chief Executive Officer of SFRC.


As CEO of SFRC, Sylvia led the organization in significant growth and expansion to ten times its capacity and                                      revenue between 2017 and 2022. SFRC is now the largest residential substance use disorder treatment                                                  program in the state of New Mexico, has a budget of over $17 million, and is serving ten times the number of                                      clients as it did in 2015. Under her leadership SFRC expanded services to provide a continuum of care                                                  including detoxification, short-term and extended residential treatment, recovery housing, transitional living,                                    supportive employment, an array of outpatient and medication assisted treatment services, gender specific                                          services, and a women and children’s residential treatment program where young children can enter                                                      treatment with their mothers.  Sylvia is committed to the support and improvement of behavioral health and                                      integrated healthcare services as she moves forward in her career. She strives to make an impact in policy,                                          funding, organizational management, and treatment innovations. She is dedicated to being of service and                                            making a positive difference.

Jim Clarkson, MA, LADAC, President and Founder of Via Positiva.  Jim serves on numerous boards                                                    and advisory roles to the nation's leading healthcare providers. He serves as Senior Adviser to BayMark Health                                    Services, the nation's leading recovery oriented, trauma informed Medication Assisted Opioid Use Disorder                                          Treatment provider headquartered in Lewisville, Texas.  He is Chairman of the National Advisory Board at                                          Ensoftek, the proprietor of DrCloudEHR, in Beaverton, Oregon.   He previously served as a National Vice                                              President with ValueOptions, Inc. (now Beacon Health Options), the nation's largest private behavioral health                                    and wellness managed care organization.  With ValueOptions, Jim was responsible for enterprises in emerging                                    market areas, managed state substance abuse delivery systems and served as an internal and external                                                    substance use disorder subject matter expert.  Previously, Jim both led behavioral health and substance use                                        disorder treatment provider agencies and worked as a clinician for many years.  Jim provided consultation and                                  training nationally and internationally including for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the                                      Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Health Resources and Services                                                            Administration, the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment, the National Association for                                              Addiction Professionals, the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness as well as many other state and                                        federal agencies.  Jim is a national presenter, trainer and subject matter expert in the business of behavioral                                        health and led the National Addiction Professional Business Learning Collaborative, the Recovery Business                                        Professionals Business Learning Collaborative, and served on the SAMHSA Recovery to Practice Initiative.   


 In addition to his role as a managed care executive, Jim has worked and consulted with programs across the                                         country focusing on the connection between spirituality and wellness, mental health, addiction recovery, and                                       financial literacy.  He managed the Healing Circle at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New                                         Mexico and has worked with pueblos and tribes around the country.  Jim has served as President of the New                                       Mexico Recovery Professionals Alliance, is a Certified NIATx Change Leader (Network for the Improvement of                                   Addiction Treatment), was a Key Supervisor for the Matrix Institute, is a Certified Mental Health First Aid                                           Trainer and for 35 years has helped Fortune 500 companies and public healthcare systems create                                                           environments for recovery, sustainability and positive therapeutic outcomes.

Tommy Valdez, is co-founder of Via Positiva and serves as Executive Administrator.                                                                                  Tommy brings over 25 years of corporate business development experience and has                                                                                    served as a leader and administrator in behavioral health for the past decade.  His creative, kind and                                                      inspirational efforts have led to profound systems change and transformation at the national level in                                                      behavioral health, peer support and person-centered approaches, creating environments for humane,                                                supportive engagement and retention, and positive therapeutic outcomes.

Kris Ericson, Ph.D., is a Senior Consultant with Via Positiva. Dr. Ericson serves preeminent clients in                                                  behavioral health, long-term care, and education across the country. Her work includes assisting health plans,                                    providers, and managed care organizations in the redesign and implementation of programs, mentoring                                                emerging leaders, technical writing and research, education and training, gap analyses and strategic planning,                                    conference/meeting planning (including extensive experience in delivering such activities through virtual                                            platforms), and facilitation of leadership groups at the national, state, and county levels.


Dr. Ericson has designed a children’s outcomes system of care for a managed care company and works as part                                      of a subject matter expert team for the US Department of Justice. She is frequently called on by colleagues                                            for insight to projects they are directing. She also has extensive experience in training and is a published                                                author. In addition to numerous previous work experiences, Dr. Ericson served as CEO of The College of Behavioral Health Leadership for more than a decade. 


Her 40-year career in the field includes experiences as a clinician, administrator, advocate, and policy maker.                                      She is passionate about improving the health care system to assure that all people have access to needed care.                                   

Dr. Ericson participates in several professional societies to continually inform her work. 


Mark J. Abeyta, MA, LPCC, Senior Consultant, has more than 20 years of clinical and                                                                              administrative experience.  For over 8 years Mark has served as a leader at OptumHealth Behavioral                                                      Solutions, a nationally recognized Managed Care Organization specializing in providing behavioral health                                            care and substance abuse services.  He most recently served as the Director of Behavioral Health Provider                                            Services in New Mexico overseeing Commercial, Medicaid, and Medicare lines of business.  While at                                                      OptumHealth Mark had the opportunity to serve in other national, regional and local roles including the                                              Clinical Director of Care Management, Director of Housing, and Director of Veterans Affairs.  Prior to his                                              work at OptumHealth, Mr. Abeyta worked at ValueOptions (now Beacon Health Options) where he was                                                instrumental in writing, implementing and managing federal grants, including the highly successful Access to Recovery SAMHSA grant.  Mark and his team led New Mexico to be recognized as one of the top 2 performers out of 30 States building one of the nation’s first highly functioning Recovery Oriented Systems of Care. 


Mark’s clinical experience began in 1997 working as a therapist in a residential treatment home for                                                        adolescents.  He continued to broaden his clinical opportunities and worked in a variety of outpatient and                                            inpatient clinical settings.  Mark went on to focus on providing clinical supervision and training as a certified                                      Crisis Prevention Intervention trainer as the Clinical Director for a start-up treatment foster care agency.  His                                      areas of special interest include prevention, early intervention, education, utilizing technology, and building a                                    full recovery-oriented mental health system of care.  He has devoted his career on working with children and                                      adults with serious mental illness, homelessness, and dual diagnosis treatment.  He has been an advocate in                                        building consumer based mental health workforce and to improve access. 


Trudy M. Rouillard-Soole, MA, LMHC (IA), LPCC, LADAC (NM), Senior Consultant, Native American Tribes, Pueblos and Communities.  Iyan Duta Wi (Red Stone Woman), Enrolled descendant of Mdewakanton (Spirit Water Dwellers) of the Dakotah Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska & also of  German/Irish Descent.  Trudy is a nationally respected trainer and presenter on many topics, especially on Native American behavioral health and traditional healing.  Trudy is in private practice in Sioux City, IA              holding an LMHC (licensed mental health counselor).  She received her MA at Webster University in                                                    Albuquerque, NM in 2009 and, her BA from Morningside College in Sioux City, IA in 1993, in Early Childhood                                  Development with a minor in Psychology & Indian Studies.  Her license as a Bachelor of Social Work and                                            Teaching Certificates with the State of Iowa & Nebraska are on in-active/retirement status.   Trudy has 25 years of psychotherapy experience.  Over the years she has facilitated therapeutic groups for inpatient & outpatient treatment services addressing addictions, substance use disorders, gambling, sexual offenders and eating disorders.  She has a special understanding of the challenges faced by minority populations and has developed community-wide programs designed explicitly to meet the needs of typically underserved populations.  Her experience integrating evidence-based practices with cultural sensitivity blends beautifully with agencies focused on evidenced based compassionate, patient centered care.  


After being a stay-at-home Mom and substitute teaching, Trudy began her training in the counseling field delivering pre-natal care to the Native American women in the Mid-West.  She implemented and facilitated a group for Native Women, to include Elders focusing on healing from multiple issues weaving into the therapeutic process Native American traditions.  She also designed and implemented an outpatient Substance Use/Misuse Disorder treatment program at Jackson Recovery Centers in Sioux City, IA, to meet the needs of the Native American population and their blended families.


While living in New Mexico Trudy worked on almost all of the 19 Pueblos in the State of New Mexico; was a Director of State Operations for Premier Care managing offices in Albuquerque, Alamogordo, Deming & Las Cruces for the ATR (Access to Recovery) grant; she was a Director of Behavioral Health for AMI-Kids-Sandoval overseeing staff and delivery of inpatient treatment to Native American and Hispanic male sexual offenders ages 12-21; she was a Faith Based Community Coordinator for the largest insurance company, Value Options; she has worked as a therapist at a Women’s Domestic Violence Shelter serving Native American women & children; she has worked at the Eating Disorder Institute of New Mexico serving males & females and has also worked as a contractor for counseling agencies in New Mexico.  Trudy's many professional awards include, Minority of Excellence (American Psychological Association), Women of Excellence (Women Pursuing Truth) and AISES (American Indian Science & Engineering) 1993 Sequoyah Fellow.  


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