Boots on the Ground Awards for June!

The San Luis Valley Joint Interagency Oversight Group (SLV Joint IOG) honored two partner agency staff members with the “Boots on the Ground” award in recognition of employees who exemplify the spirit of cross-systems collaboration.  The June 2016 award recipients are Shawna Johnston and Teri Sisneros.

Shawna is a child protection caseworker with Rio Grande County DSS, and has been employed with the Department since November 2012. In the past year, Shawna has developed a greater sense of empowerment in her daily work and a greater sense of empathy for her clients.  Shawna works extremely hard on making referrals for treatment for clients, finding natural support systems and connecting clients to services/providers.  Shawna meets with clients around their schedule, which usually means after-hours meetings.  Shawna works to provide transportation for clients/children to appointments and court dates.  Thanks to these efforts, Shawna is having greater success in keeping children and families together.  Ultimately, it is the clients that benefit from the hard work, persistence, collaboration and dedication that Shawna pours into helping families make positive changes in their lives.

Teri Sisneros is a Family Support Partner for the Joint IOG and also works as the Coordinator of Mi Animo at the San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group. The person who nominated her states, “She is the epitome of family voice, persistence, and community-based collaboration.   She is passionate in her mission to empower and support families. In my 25 years working in the communities of the San Luis Valley I have never seen someone with so much hope, grit, empathy and compassion. Teri puts her “boots” on everyday trekking through the sludge of fear, judgements, trauma and hopelessness that surrounds many of the families we work with.  She walks alongside our families in the mud, rain wind and snow–helping them find their voices, holding them up at times, and pushing gently when needed.  She is also wholly committed to assisting those who work with the families i.e., case workers, probation officers, clinicians, attorneys and judges to provide the best services possible. At times, that means she helps explain the systems to our families and many times it means she works with her community partners to change the system to be more supportive for our families. Those who work with Teri will say she is amazing…and she is.  She has changed me – I am more compassionate and more hopeful.  I also am more persistent.  I have to be….to keep up with Teri.”

Established in 2008, the SLV Joint IOG, funded through Colorado State House Bill 1451, currently includes Alamosa and Rio Grande Counties. Over twenty agencies participate in the SLV Joint IOG; the 12th Judicial District Probation Department and Senate Bill 94 Program, Alamosa County Department of Human Services, Alamosa County Public Health Department, Alamosa School District, Center for Restorative Programs, Colorado Division of Youth Corrections, Colorado Health Partnerships, Crossroads’ Turning Points, Del Norte School District, Monte Vista School District, Rio Grande County Department of Social Services, Teri Sisneros, Rio Grande County Family Representative, Rio Grande County Public Health Department, San Luis Valley Early Childhood Council, San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group, San Luis Valley BOCES, Sargent School District, Signal Behavioral Health Network, and Tu Casa.

The goal of the SLV Joint IOG is to develop collaborative approaches for the provision of individualized, strength-based, family-centered, and culturally sensitive services to children, youth, and families. The SLV Joint IOG works to increase the quality and appropriateness of services while encouraging cost sharing and reducing service duplication and fragmentation.

For more information about the SLV Joint IOG, please visit our website at, or contact Carrie Heltzel, Director, at carrieheltzel