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Xiomara ‘Xio’ Owens honored as David G. Stone Postsecondary Instructor/Administrator of the Year

July 2, 2018

Mental and behavioral health is a key aspect in the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s efforts toward our vision that Alaska Native people are the healthiest people in the world. The ANTHC Behavioral Health Aide Program has been hard at work expanding access to behavioral health services to our people across the state by developing and implementing training programs that are specific to Alaska’s Behavioral Health Aides (BHAs).

Advancing our vision with her outstanding efforts at the forefront of the BHA workforce development, ANTHC Director of Behavioral Health Aide Training Xiomara “Xio” Owens was named the David G. Stone Postsecondary Instructor/Administrator of the Year from the Alaska Workforce Investment Board.

“It is an honor to even be considered for the award, but it would not have been possible without my team, colleagues, and the wide net of partners who contributed to the recent expansion of our BHA training program,” Owens said. “Across the state, Behavioral Health Aides are dedicated to the health and well-being of their communities. In turn, we [the ANTHC BHA Program] have dedicated ourselves to the BHAs by developing training programs and resources that allow them greater access to training and more opportunities to advance their education and careers. Their growing knowledge and skills will also increase the services they can provide in their home communities.”

“It is important for BHAs to be prepared to address the unique challenges of their position,” Owens added. “So the BHA training program is tailored specifically to their scope of practice and it is taught in the context of working and living in rural and remote Alaskan communities.”

In partnership with Iļisaġvik College, Owens helped create a curriculum for an Associate of Applied Science degree in compliance with the Community Health Aide Program Certification Board Standards and Procedures. In other words, BHAs now have an option for having their training requirements for BHA certification met at the same time they complete an associate degree. The program is designed to accommodate the needs of the BHAs who live in remote locations around the state, while allowing students to stay in their respective villages for the majority of their training experience. Through partnerships with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Owens also designed and completed the application to establish a Registered Apprenticeship for Behavioral Health Aides – the first in the nation.

The BHA Program is the third of the triad of Health Aide training programs in the Alaska Tribal Health System; it is preceded by the Community Health Aide/Practitioner program (providing medical services) and the Dental Health Aide program (providing oral health care services). The youngest of these programs, the BHA program aims to help Alaskans across the state to see behavioral health as a critical component of health care.

“Experiencing a wide range of thoughts, feelings and behaviors is a natural part of life, but sometimes they can affect other parts of our life, our relationships and overall life satisfaction. These are times when connecting with a behavioral health provider can be really helpful,” Owens said.

The Alaska Workforce Investment Board is the state’s lead planning and coordinating entity for employment training in Alaska. Each year, it presents awards to professionals who have made significant contributions to career and technical education (CTE) or Registered Apprenticeship in Alaska, and to an employer whose efforts and initiatives have had an extraordinary impact on the community.

“The David G. Stone Awards recognize outstanding instruction and training efforts that improve and promote career and technical education in the state,” said Larry Bell, chair of the Alaska Workforce Investment Board. “[Owens has] made significant contributions toward programs that are helping students and adults attain the skills they need for meaningful careers and to support Alaska’s industry needs.”

The awards are named for David G. Stone, a former Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development and long-time vice chair of the Alaska Workforce Investment Board.

Related story: Partnership with Iļisaġvik College gives Behavioral Health Aides more opportunity to support Alaska Native communities

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