By Alison Bailin Batz
Steven Sheets carves career path in caring
By his teens, Valley native Steven Sheets knew what he would do when he grew up.
“I actually went to school to be in the ministry,” says Sheets, who worked toward a bachelor’s degree in Christian Studies at Grand Canyon University in the early 2000s.
However, during the tail end of his program, he began to realize it was not his path.
“I found myself at 22 with a degree in this very niche area of study and knowing I wanted to use it to help people, but wasn’t quite sure how to go about it if not as a minister,” Sheets says.
He happened upon Holland Boone, a local retail store in North Scottsdale, and took a job there while he decided his next step. Sheets spent the next four years in retail, eventually running operations for the business.
“While I enjoyed the business, it neither fed my soul nor gave me much time for a social life,” Sheets says.
He left the business in 2009. Finally, with some free time, Sheets made plans to ask his then-girlfriend, Morgan, to be his wife.
“When I asked Morgan’s father for his blessing, he said yes, but on the condition I got myself a new job quickly,” says Sheets, who – three weeks after getting engaged – did just that.
During a job fair, Sheets met with Southwest Network, which at the time was hiring for children’s case management positions.
“Their mission – creating partnerships, inspiring hope and changing lives – touched me,” Sheets says.
He interviewed and was offered a job on the spot for a position with the organization despite having no formal background in counseling or social services. The interview changed the course of Sheets’ life.
“For the next four-and-a-half-years, I poured myself into providing quality services to members served while taking on more and more responsibility,” Sheets says.
He served as a case manager and team lead for the organization so he could help families experiencing behavioral and mental health challenges, including children living in foster care and group homes.
In 2013, a colleague spoke to him about moving forward.
“I set my sights on earning my master’s degree in professional counseling over the next two years,” Sheets says.
Sheets worked full time while in school and took on a time-intensive internship as part of his master’s requirements. The 1,600-hour internship, where he primarily provided counseling and case management, was with Southwest Behavioral & Health Services (SB&H).
“SB&H is a leader in the development and delivery of services in the areas of housing, residential care, prevention services, outpatient services to children, autism spectrum disorder, school-based counseling, opioid replacement services, incarcerated persons and dually diagnosed adults,” Sheets says.
“Their aim is to continuously innovate to help people.”
The organization provides services throughout the Valley and rural Maricopa County as well as Gila, Mohave, Coconino and Yavapai counties.
With a master’s degree in hand, Sheets joined SB&H full time in 2013. Never one to rest on his laurels, Sheets also took on an adjunct faculty position at Phoenix College, helping students new to higher education best set themselves up for success.
By 2015, Sheets was named the program director for SB&H’s Broadway outpatient clinic in Phoenix, where he oversaw services for 700 individuals in any given month while implementing new counseling programs, assisting medical professionals and providing counseling to adults and children so he could earn his independent counseling license. In his spare time, he worked at an SB&H crisis recovery unit completing assessments.
“In 2016, I took on my biggest challenge yet: overseeing our metro outpatient clinic,” he says. “There, we helped approximately 2,000 individuals each month. From there, I took on a vice president role in 2017, overseeing all outpatient services across Maricopa and Gila counties, and then a senior vice president role, overseeing all SB&H service offerings across those same areas including residential programming, inpatient treatment, opioid replacement services and school/community based treatment.”
Sheets is especially proud of the launch of Southwest Autism Center of Excellence (SACE) in 2017.
SACE is a collaborative effort of Southwest Behavioral & Health Services and Southwest Human Development. SACE’s philosophy of serving autism spectrum disorder members throughout their lifespan promotes high-quality community-based services that are tailored to each member and family—delivering services in the most appropriate setting, in a timely fashion and in accordance with best practices, while respecting the members and family’s cultural heritage.
Sheets is also proud of SB&H’s four opioid replacement clinics throughout the state that are working tirelessly to save lives and help alleviate the statewide crisis.
“I am honored to today lead this organization of professionals who are so dedicated to the health and well-being of our community,” says Sheets, who was appointed chief executive officer of SB&H in December 2018.
“I will carry on the legacy of Jeff Jorde, who passed in 2018 and passionately led this organization for so many years.”
So, what’s next for Sheets?
“In addition to my role at SB&H as well as my volunteer service – as a counseling advisory board member at GCU and member of the governance counsel at Equality Health Network, respectively – I am a new dad,” Sheets says. “My son, Nelson, turns 1 in August.” ν
For more, visit sbhservices.org.