2008 Behavioral Health Champion: Carol Luna-Anderson, PhD, LPCC | Behavioral Healthcare Executive Skip to content Skip to navigation

2008 Behavioral Health Champion: Carol Luna-Anderson, PhD, LPCC

December 1, 2008
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Photographer: Carolyn Wright

Position: Executive Director

Organization: The Life Link

Service area: Santa Fe County and five counties in Northeastern New Mexico

Main services: Supportive transitional and permanent housing with home-based comprehensive community services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, homeless services (women with children, people with psychiatric disabilities)

Number of staff: 54

Most vivid behavioral healthcare memory: “Looking into the eyes of a mother of two in her mid-20s and seeing pain, and hopelessness. Multi-hospitalizations, suicide attempts, long bouts of depression. This is the picture of despair. With shelter, mental health treatment, support services, and a plan of guidance, we jointly work together and finally she's in control. Recovery happens.”

Personal mission statement: “My mission is to provide the most effective and efficient interventions to a group, the individuals and families who often are forgotten or stepped over. Providing hope, encouragement, and acting as a cheerleader so that others see the potential, the amazing possibilities, and react positively. I believe my glass is always half full!"

“I believe we are drawn to things that have touched our lives and perhaps influenced us into becoming who we are. My childhood story includes my family having psychiatric disabilities, alcoholism, divorce, and a dependence on others to help us eat. But it also included strength, an ability to overcome, encouragement, and stubbornness to succeed. “My education includes a master in nursing, a doctorate in counseling, and years of learning from those around me. Career highlights include opening a psychiatric unit and expanding a small homeless shelter into a dynamic agency recognized by SAMHSA in 2007 for its best-practice models. Our over 100 housing units with support services were recognized by HUD in 2006 as a housing best practice. I have had the privilege to sit on councils and committees with decision makers for the state of New Mexico and have my voice heard. “But best of all I have seen real heroes: a woman who overcomes addiction and sexual abuse, a man with schizophrenia who becomes independent and has his own place, and workers who go the extra mile to advocate and encourage. “The best accomplishment I can leave our agency is to ensure that the work continues. We have established an endowment fund with the Santa Fe Community Foundation and plan to focus on helping it grow. I am still learning exactly how to do this, but when I have someone drop by my office and say, ‘My kids are in school and doing well. I have not used for over three years now and have no depression episodes. And guess what? I got a raise at work,’ that's my inspiration. That's my motivation. “This work is hard. We fight for funds. We compete on all levels to ensure continuation of services. There is never a time when someone else is not at the door. And at the end of the day, I would like everyone to be a change agent—for ourselves, for others, and for agencies.”

Behavioral Healthcare 2008 December;28(12):8-15