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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                                            Masters 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., Senior Consultant, serves preeminent clients across the country. Her work

                                      includes assisting health plans, providers, and managed care organizations in the re-implementation

                                      of programs, mentoring emerging leaders, technical writing and research, education and training,

                                      and conference/meeting planning. Her 30+ year career in the field includes experiences as a clinician,

                                      administrator, advocate, and policy maker and she is passionate about improving the health care systems

                                      to assure that all people have access to needed care. She participates in several professional societies to

                                      continually inform her work.  Dr. Ericson served as the CEO of The College of Behavioral Health Leadership.


                                   Dr. Ericson lives in Albuquerque, NM and is an active community volunteer. She is past chair, Board of Directors, Bethany College, Lindsborg, KS; a long-time key volunteer for Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity; congregation president at All Saints Lutheran Church in Albuquerque; and is past president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) New Mexico. Dr. Ericson completed her baccalaureate studies in psychology at Bethany College, KS. Her graduate studies were undertaken at The Pennsylvania State University resulting in a master’s in community psychology and the PhD in public administration, with a concentration on health policy.

                                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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