Devereux California’s Mory Alvarez to retire after 40-plus years of service
“Mory has dedicated her life to Devereux and its mission. In her decades of employment, she has held a variety of roles – all of them focused on improving the lives of the individuals and families we serve.”
From music therapist, playing the piano, guitar, drums and conducting creative arts events to incident command safety officer for Devereux’s Emergency Response Team, planning and preparing for unexpected events, including wildfires and mudslides, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health California’s Mory Alvarez, M.A., LMFT, has done it all it.
Since joining Devereux California in 1976, Mory has served in roles of increasing responsibility, including direct support professional, program director, treatment program specialist and, most recently, quality management manager, a position she has held since 1998.
After 44 years of exceptional leadership and service, Mory will officially retire in February 2021, although she plans to continue working part-time for the center in another role.
“My time at Devereux California has flown by – it has been both interesting and challenging and filled with a lot of learning and professional development,” Mory shared. “I have had opportunities to problem-solve; mediate; create protocols and procedures; and mentor, teach and support the individuals and families in our care, as well as my colleagues. One of the most rewarding elements of my job has been to identify staff who have the potential to grow within the organization, and take them under my wing and support them through their professional development.”
Evans noted, “Mory is a champion for the adults and families we serve. She has had a significant and positive impact on so many lives. In addition to supporting our individuals, Mory has made it her priority to bring out the best in her colleagues. All those who have worked with Mory are better for it – she leads by example and sets high expectations. The health and human services system as a whole is a better system for having her be a part of it.”
Keeping adults safe
In addition to her role as quality management manager, Mory serves as the center’s senior investigator, safety officer, incident command officer and liaison to regulatory agencies.
In 2008, she created the Devereux Emergency Response Team (DERT), which works closely with community officials and regulatory agencies in the event of an emergency situation, such as a natural disaster, to ensure the safety of those served by the organization, as well as staff.
In January 2018, when a series of mudslides impacted Santa Barbara County, where the center is located, the team sprang into action.
“We coordinated the evacuation of two community-based group homes in the middle of the night. We relocated the residents to our main campus in Goleta, as well as to area hotels,” Mory explained. “The mudslides went from the mountains to the ocean, closing all of the roads to neighboring towns, which prevented staff from traveling to and from work. We used a boat system to shuttle staff back and forth until rail lines were cleared of debris and we were able to use Amtrak and bus shuttles.”
The emergency response team once again worked seamlessly in November 2019 to keep adults safe during wildfire evacuations. Read a previous news article on this topic.
In March 2020, Mory created the COVID-19 pandemic response team in coordination with the Health Department and regulatory agencies. This team is actively involved on a daily basis with ensuring the health, safety and well-being of all residents and staff.
Words of wisdom
During her retirement transition plan, Mory is focused on developing job aids, procedures/guidelines and providing training to leadership team members.
Once she retires, Mory hopes to spend her free time remodeling her home, playing music, gardening, walking, riding her bike and reconnecting with spiritual practices. She says she will miss her job and working so closely with colleagues who have become more like family over the years. Mory encourages them to follow their dreams and “do the right thing.”
Her words of wisdom: “Conduct yourself with fairness, honesty and integrity. Convey trustworthiness and compassion in your actions, and be bold and passionate in the work you do.”
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