Nelba Chavez, PhD ’75

Like many notable GSSW graduates, Nelba Chavez (PhD ’75) had an early and significant impact on the social work profession.  Before earning her PhD, Chavez spent 17 years as executive director and chief operating officer at Tucson’s La Frontera Center. The Center was recognized as a national model of outstanding comprehensive, community-based mental health by former First Ladies Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter and Hillary Clinton. In 1994, President Bill Clinton named Chavez the first Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the first Hispanic/Latina to head a public health agency in the 200-year history of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  In 2003, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano appointed Chavez as the Deputy Director of Programs for the state’s Department of Economic Security.