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Mike Ruttenberg new Connections director

photo of Mike RuttenbergMike Ruttenberg has been hired as the new director of the Mental Health Connections program overseeing both the adult and Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult (CAYAC) teams. He replaces Kristen Cochran-Ward, who stepped down after nearly 7 years as program manager and then director of Connections.

Ruttenberg is the former clinical director for Larimer County Community Corrections and has worked as a licensed behavioral health provider (marriage and family therapist) for both youth and adults. He led and served on many teams responsible for the transformation of the criminal justice system’s approach to those with mental health and/or substance use disorders. In addition, he has been an adjunct clinical supervisor for the Colorado State University Marriage and Family Therapy program, and an adjunct faculty member at Front Range Community College.

“We are excited to have Mike join us at a time when the mental health field is experiencing extra challenges due to the stresses of the last couple of COVID-impacted years,” says Carol Plock, former executive director for the Health District. “We anticipate that his skill and experience as a therapist and clinical supervisor, combined with his record as a director in developing some of the best behavioral services in a corrections setting in the state, will help Connections and our community develop creative solutions to help meet those challenges.”

photo of Kristen Cochran-WardCochran-Ward worked to expand Connections to aid youth and families struggling with behavioral health issues.

“Throughout her career, Kristen has been instrumental in making long-lasting improvements in community mental health services,” Plock says. “Here at the Health District, one of her greatest achievements was to build out what was originally just a community dream—the development of Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Connections (CAYAC)—into a well-staffed, multidisciplinary, ongoing program. Families who previously didn’t know where to turn regularly share with us their great thanks for CAYAC’s assistance.”