Region 8 Prevention Fellows and Mentors
We are so excited to announce our newest Region 8 Prevention Fellows for the 2022-2023 year, Steve Otero, Cheyenne Chee, and Morgan Neavill.
ABOUT OUR FELLOWS
Western Colorado University, Colorado
Steve Otero is a Certified Workplace Mindfulness Facilitator, National Outdoor Leadership
School (NOLS) outdoor educator, and holds bachelor's degrees in Exercise Science,
Experimental Psychology, and Recreation and Outdoor education from Western Colorado
University. His passion is connecting others with the power of the natural world. He serves as a
Veteran Services Officer in Gunnison County, CO and as part of the federal "Task Force on
Outdoor Recreation for Veterans", which is investigating the use of outdoor recreation for the
health and wellness of veterans. Steve is also a US Air Force military veteran with combat
deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan as a combat cameraman and forensic investigator.
Utah State University, Utah
I am in the first year of my Master of Public Health program at Utah State University. I am a
first-generation, Navajo student. During my undergraduate degree, I majored in human biology
at Utah State University. It was during my undergraduate degree journey that my love for public
health grew. In August 2022, I applied to the Mountain Plains PTTC fellowship program. I got
accepted in October 2022. My mentor is Heidi Dutson from the Utah Department of Health and
Human Services. I am excited to learn more skills and strengthen my career and preparation in
Montana State University, Montana
I am currently a student at Montana State University working on my Ph.D. in Psychological
Science. My research is on substance use disorders in American Indian and Alaska Native
communities. My ultimate career goal is to bring culturally adapted mental health resources to
underserved communities in rural Alaska. This prevention fellowship will aid me in attaining the
education necessary to do so. I am excited to be working with Youth Connections on creating
content to educate policymakers on how current legislation affects substance use in Montana
We would like to thank our amazing mentors, Kyle Pacqué, Heidi Duston, and Coleen Smith
ABOUT OUR MENTORS
School/Training Prevention Specialist, Community Prevention & Early Intervention Unit, Colorado Department of Prevention Health and Environment
Co-Coordinator, Project AWARE, Colorado Department of Education
My name is Kyle Pacqué (pronounced like Beyoncé or café ☺). I have two roles within state government; .5 FTE as the School/Training Prevention Specialist on the Community Prevention and Early Intervention team within the Prevention Services Division at the Department of Public Health and Environment, .5 FTE as the Co-coordinator for Project AWARE - a SAMHSA grant awarded to Colorado's Department of Education focused on the implementation of mental health supports in school settings. In my two roles, my work is focused on de-siloing state-level efforts focused on mental health promotion and substance use prevention targeted towards young people across the state. Much of my work is creating space between state-level colleagues on how we can be more efficient and effective in our youth-targeted efforts to truly accomplish a shared risk and protective factors approach to youth well-being.
My journey to the prevention field started with having two parents who are international public health. Growing up in a low-income country in West Africa, the value of serving the most vulnerable and under-served was instilled in me at a very young age. Then, while in undergraduate school at Virginia Tech, following the 2017 school shooting strategy, my passion for prevention was sparked. I kept finding myself asking, what could have been done to prevent such a tragic event? The result, the pursuit of a masters degree, the forming of a non-profit focused on youth-led prevention and promotion, and then ultimately finding a place within state government prevention efforts. I live in Denver with my wife and our pets Fiona (cat) and Bisa (dog). My hobbies include exercise like hiking, skiing, soccer, and a visit to the gym, as well as nerding out playing tabletop role-playing games (like Dungeons and Dragons).
Prevention Administrator & Regional Director, Utah Department of Health and Human Services
Heidi came to the Prevention Field after working for several years in the Health Insurance Industry. She studied Business and Administration in her schooling. While taking a parenting class from her local coalition, Heidi was 'lit up' about the science she was learning, which eventually led to a career pivot for her. She started teaching the parenting classes, then she worked for the Tooele Communities That Care coordinating evidence-based prevention programs in schools. After a couple of years, she was promoted as the lead Coordinator for Tooele CTC, then she took an opportunity with the State of Utah in the Summer of 2018 to provide training and technical assistance for coalitions and prevention professionals across the State. She also serves as the Regional Director for two of the states prevention districts: Tooele, and Northeastern Utah. She loves helping new prevention professionals acclimate to their work, system, and frameworks.
Heidi and her husband have 8 children combined, each bringing 4 to their blending family. She has 6 grandchildren as well, so this crew keeps her on her toes. She enjoys traveling and the outdoors, exploring new scenery and history/culture (and let's not forget food) of different areas. Reading, hiking, and spending time with friends and family are what she loves to do most in her free time.
Executive Director, Youth Connections Coalition, Montana
Coleen is a native Montanan, growing up in the Bitterroot Valley (Hamilton). After leaving the beautiful state for 20 years to live in the 4 corners of the U.S. – Alaska, Florida, Massachusetts, and multiple places in between, she returned to Helena 20+ years ago. She took over as Exec Dir almost 10 years ago for a local coalition who was at the end of their funding. They were a school district program, and when funding went away they had to go our separate ways. She set up the 501c3 to continue the work. In 2018 she wrote and they were awarded the contract with the Dept of Health and Human Svc to provide training and technical assistance to all the prevention specialists across the state. This had never been done before, so everything was from scratch. The majority of the work was done by 4 TA’s. They brought another TA on and then a TA to work specifically with the tribes. With the expansion of prevention in Montana last October, they got 3 more people. They have 10 TAs now! She focuses on statewide collaborations and other projects with the state. In addition, they have a quarterly magazine they developed that is syndicated for other coalitions. She works with a committee to develop content, sell and service the syndicates, look for and write grants, keep her finger on the pulse of anything marijuana-related, and do books for YouthConnections. :)
Coleen enjoys hiking, golfing, and boating with her husband, David. She also likes singing with the Helena Symphony Chorale. She has two daughters and sons-in-law, two granddaughters, two step children and a step grandson. Prior to landing in substance abuse prevention in 2013, she worked in public relations, sales, and program development. Her happy place is Glacier Park. Coleen’s greatest accomplishment in prevention is taking Youth Connections from one part time employee to a staff of ten, surviving with virtually no grant funding.
Mountain Plains Prevention Technology Transfer Center (Region 8)
Prevention Fellowship Program
funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
The purpose of the Prevention Fellowship Program (PFP) administered by the Mountain Plains Prevention Technology Transfer Center (MP-PTTC) for Region 8 is to develop a knowledgeable and well-trained cadre of prevention fellows in the area of substance use/misuse prevention and prepare them to achieve certification from the International Certificate & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS) exam.
Length of Program: The PFP is one academic year, including fall, winter/spring, and summer semesters.
General Eligibility: The PFP is open to individuals pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees in behavioral or public health programs (or closely related) at a college, university, or tribal college within one of the six states in Region 8 (defined by Health and Human Services): Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, or Wyoming. Individuals must be in good standing and enrolled in their respective graduate program at the time of application and maintain enrollment during the length of the PFP.
Be enrolled (and in good standing) in a graduate program in behavioral or public health (or closely related) at a college, university or tribal college in Region 8 of the United States at the time of application and during the length of the PFP.
Have a strong commitment to gain experience, training, and professional development in the field of prevention.
Be available for trainings and meetings (virtual and in-person) during the PFP; efforts will be made to work within the context of fellow’s school course/academic schedules.
We anticipate that, on average, the time commitment will be up to 5 hours a week. However, due to the nature of the fellowship, the actual time commitment can vary depending on the interest of the Prevention Fellow. There will be a combination of in-person (e.g., attending a training) and virtual (e.g., on-line meetings) time commitments. We will do our best to work with each Prevention Fellow in regard to their academic schedule.
Benefits of Being a Prevention Fellow:
Be matched with a Prevention Mentor (selected by the MP-PTTC) during the PFP.
Hands-on experience working with state and related agencies.
Virtual and in-person training and professional development in substance use/misuse prevention.
Acquire proficiency in appropriate core competencies in preparation for the Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS) exam.
Develop management and leadership skills
Prepare for potential employment opportunities within the substance use/misuse prevention field.
Develop an Individualized Career Development Plan with a Prevention Mentor that will guide training and professional development experiences during the PFP.
Completion of a capstone project
Domestic travel up to three times for professional meetings, trainings, or professional development opportunities during the PFP.
Receive a stipend of $5,000 per term (fall, spring, summer) for participation in the PFP.
For any questions, please contact us at [email protected]