Carol Valdez’, Executive Director, energy rapidly earned her a top spot at Sierra Vista. Ms. Valdez performed her practicum at Sierra Vista in 2012 toward an Associate’s Degree Human Services. Her passion for Alzheimer’s victims led her back to Sierra Vista in 2013 where she worked as Administrative Assistant, then Director of Activities. By May of 2014 Ms. Valdez had earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. All while being a full time Mom, employee and student. Being brought up by a single mother Carol, learned the value of hard work, respect for elders, and stretching resources to make the most out of every situation.
Prior to earning her position as Executive Director, Ms. Valdez worked with Tribal Relations & AKAL Security, in capacities such as, cultural sensitivity, budgets, negotiating contracts, legal assistant and investigated EEOC complaints.
Carol is bilingual and bicultural. She believes there is good in all situations of life even in the tragedy of someone living with Dementia. Carol is mentored by Director of Operations, Velma Arellano, who established the well-respected, high standard of care that has earned Sierra Vista a proven track record, numerous awards and the reputation as a premier facility.
Debbie Norris-Sparks, Business Office Manager, began her career in the financial industry at a very young age. She worked for a local bank for over fifteen years until joining the Credit Union movement, which is where she is currently employed as the Vice President of Human Resources and Executive Assistant to the President/CEO. Debbie has received certifications in Human Resource Management as well as branch operations from the Northern NM Community College, the Society of Human Resources and the National Association of Banking Women.
In addition to her involvement in non-profit organizations such as Santa Fe Crime Stoppers, President of the Northern NM Chapter of Credit Unions, Debbie enjoys serving as a member of the Santa Fe Fiesta Council which is charged with the annual staging of the oldest continuous celebration in the continental United States. In 2012, Debbie was elected to serve as the third female President of the Santa Fe Fiesta Council and successfully staged the 300th community celebration. It was during this time that Debbie met Executive Director Velma Arellano who introduced her to the very special population living at Sierra Vista where she serves part-time as the Business Office Manager.
Gary Sparks, Environmental Supervisor, was born in Yankton, SD and spent the first years of his life in the Hartington, Nebraska area. After moving with his family to Socorro, New Mexico he often spent his summers back on the farm in Nebraska with his grandparents. There he learned the value of hard work and to respect the gift of wisdom that the members of the small farming community could pass on to him. Gary and his family moved to Socorro where he graduated from high school and went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Police Science from New Mexico State University.
Prior to becoming a proud member of Team Sierra Vista, Gary enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a law enforcement officer, first as an officer with the Los Alamos Police Department and then as a New Mexico State Police officer. While with the New Mexico State Police, part of Gary’s many responsibilities were patrolman, criminal agent, managing the evidence vault and supervising the narcotics division for District 1. Prior to his retirement Gary supervised the Criminal Division for District 1.
Since Gary’s arrival three years ago at Sierra Vista, he has participated in numerous trainings enriching his knowledge on the safety and operations of Sierra Vista as well as leading the staff training for fire safety and evacuation procedures. Gary is committed to ensuring the safety of the Elders, staff and visitors at Sierra Vista.
Yolanda Arrey, MSW, Director of Social Services, was born and raised in Santa Fe New Mexico, the City of Holy Faith. She is very proud of her rich Hispanic culture and traditions. She raised four beautiful children that are successful in their careers, one, recently promoted to Army ajudigent General. Yolanda worked in the corporate sector for 35 years before realizing her dream of attending higher education in which to work with; and advocate for elders. She received an Associates of Art’s Degree in Human Services from the Santa Fe Community College in 2013 then enrolled at New Mexico Highlands University and received a Bachelor’s degree in 2015. Ms. Arrey was accepted to an Advanced Standing/Honors program and earned her Master’s Degree in only one year. She graduated in May 2016 with a Masters in Social Work Degree from New Mexico Highlands University. Yolanda is currently preparing for her New Mexico License, (LMSW).
Sierra Vista was her practicum assignment for two semesters. She was given the opportunity to work with Elders who have been struck with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Yolanda is patient and kind, and demonstrates incredible support to our families through her studies, research and genuine ways. She loves one of many of Sierra Vista’s motto’s which is… “a place to call home, where Elders can find the perfect balance of freedom and security through a full range of individualized services”.
Ms. Arrey is a member of Santa Fe Fiesta Council Inc. and the American Business Women’s Association. Yolanda gives more of herself by volunteering at St. Elizabeth Homeless Shelter, and the Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe Lunch Program. She further assists Hermano’s Cruzados, a fraternal order, with the coordination of their annual Thanksgiving Meal for the less fortunate, known as shut-ins. This past year Yolanda volunteered at the International Folk Art Market where she assisted a vendor from Bangladesh whose inventory consisted of beautiful bedspreads, silk scarves and shawls dyed with natural colors, indigo being the most popular. The International Folk Art Market contributes to the developing countries that participate.
Kristin Nuttle, RN, Director of Nursing, has been in Nursing services for over 30 years she has worked in acute care, long-term care, case management, admissions coordinator, Hospice, physicians’ offices, Drug and alcohol rehabilitation and dementia facilities. All of this experience has allowed her to truly become a knowledgeable advocate.
Kris has a very high regard for her patients. She focuses on compassionate holistic care. Kris has worked in several different parts of the country working with a variety of ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. She takes pride in being in tune with her patients’ needs and individual care.
For personal enjoyment Kris finds time to hike, Garden and enjoys birding. These hobbies lend a spiritual relief to her busy life.
Kris attended college in Columbia Missouri at Columbia College her nursing degree in Lake county, Illinois and she still enjoys taking classes to further her education and knowledge in the different realms of changing medicine.
She has two grown daughters and two darling cats all that are very supportive of her occupation.
Pippa, Activities Director, was born in Palo Alto, CA and grew up in Amherst, MA, as well as internationally. She attended UC Santa Cruz, where she received her BA in Psychology, and Sonoma State University, where she was awarded an MA in Counseling. She then moved to Santa Fe in 1997 and worked as a school counselor in the Santa Fe public schools for several years, before moving into more community based positions in Counseling, Education and Human Services. In 2003 she joined the US Peace Corps and served for almost 3 years as a volunteer in Lesotho, Africa, as both a youth and sustainable agriculture consultant.
Upon her return, Pippa became certified in Permaculture Design, as an herbalist, and worked as the Garden Manager at the Santa Fe Children’s Museum. She also worked with Children and Families in a social work capacity, and began her business as a life coach.
Over the years, Pippa has worked within the entire human development spectrum, from infants and toddlers through the school age years, young adults, families, and those in middle age, as well retirees. It then became an almost natural inclination to step into a position working with elders. Pippa also developed a specific interest in working with those who have Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, due to her personal experience with friends and family members, and was drawn to work at Sierra Vista for its innovative, non-institutional approach to memory care.