July 28, 2023

Laurie Stolen’s legacy: Better behavioral-health care

2023 Women of Distinction – Government, Energy & Utilities

Laurie Stolen is committed to mental-health care – in Northern Colorado and beyond.

Stolen resigned July 25 as director of Larimer County Behavioral Services, a post she held since 2019, and said she wants to take her role as a consultant in the field to a national level, “to kind of broaden the knowledge here to other communities.

“My hope is I would go into a consulting business of my own,” Stolen said. “I think there’s a lot of great opportunities ahead of me.”

A recent recipient of the Conrad Ball Award for her “amazing accomplishments” in behavioral health and the county’s criminal-justice system, she began working in government in 1998 as a recreation specialist at the county jail, steering projects that addressed inmates’ mental health and helping them have a productive life after release. Stolen in 2010 became director of the Larimer County Alternative Sentencing Department, improving work-release and other programs that allow those convicted of lesser crimes to maintain their jobs while serving their sentences. Her work demonstrated the relationship between mental health, substance abuse and offenders’ re-entry into the criminal justice system and has influenced other programs across Colorado.

In 2017, Stolen volunteered to help create a behavioral health facility, part of the goal of safety and well-being in the Larimer County Strategic Plan. Her work helped fuel voter approval in 2018 of a ballot initiative to designate funding for behavioral health and to build the county’s first acute-care behavioral health facility, paid for by a quarter-cent sales and use tax – the first successful ballot initiative after several failed tries to address mental and behavioral health issues in the community, The sales and use tax extends 20 years through 2038, generating an average of $20 million to $22 million a year to cover three areas of service through the county’s Behavioral Health Services department established by the initiative.

As a result, the 40-acre Larimer County Behavioral Health Services Longview Campus at 2260 W. Trilby Road on the southwest edge of Fort Collins is scheduled to open in December and will house a variety of behavioral-health services.

She said the care people can get locally will be top level.

“We are combining levels of care. That is unprecedented anywhere in the nation, let alone the state,” Stolen told BizWest last fall. “Normally levels of care are still treated in silo for substance disorder treatment, another for mental health care, and one for physical care. We will be doing all those things in one facility.”

The Longview campus will include additional offerings in future phases, such as primary care, adolescence care, equine therapy and a wellness campus.

Stolen received a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies from Colorado State University in Fort Collins and a master’s in rehabilitative counseling from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where she graduated magna cum laude. She is a certified pretrial services professional through the National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies and a certified jail manager through the American Jail Association.

Dallas Heltzell

Staff writer

Dallas Heltzell
Dallas has been with BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, having worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He's a proud St. Louis Cardinals and Missouri Tigers fan and Longmonter who loves the outdoors, good restaurants, our Northern Colorado mountain communities, his big backyard and living in a region that's the country's most exciting place to be a business reporter.

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