Welcome Day 1

Learning Objective:

  • To identify information and updates on the behavioral health system redesign for Iowa.

Kelly GarciaDirector, Iowa Department of Health and Human Services
Praised for transformative leadership, Kelly Kennedy Garcia serves as the Director of the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Governor Kim Reynolds appointed Garcia to oversee the state’s social services agency in November 2019. She was unanimously confirmed by the Iowa Senate on February 26, 2020. Later that year, Garcia was asked to serve as Interim Public Health Director. As a dual director, Garcia led the agency’s pandemic response, while sheparding consolidation to a single health and human services structure.

Two years later, Kelly leads Iowa’s largest agency, with a commitment to transparency and accountability. The key to this success is building strong teams, transforming the agency’s business processes and driving home on a human-centered strategic vision.

Before moving to the Hawkeye state, Garcia led improvements in organizational structure, program management, and policy development in the great state of Texas, including serving in several executive positions at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Garcia has more than 20 years of experience in program evaluation and budget, planning, and policy development. Garcia is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and received her MPA from The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. She was a member of the Governor’s Executive Development Program sponsored by the LBJ School of Public Affairs and has been acknowledged as a distinguished alumnus. She is married to attorney Dan Garcia, and they have two children.

Marissa EyansonDivision Administrator, Iowa Department of Health and Human Services
Marissa Eyanson serves as the Director of the Division of Behavioral Health for the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, linking together Iowa’s State Mental Health Authority (SMHA), Single State Authority (SSA) for Substance Abuse, and the State’s work related to Tobacco Use, Prevention and Control.

From her first job as a direct support professional to her work in Medicaid-managed care, Marissa has been focused on the intersections between behavioral health supports, network capacity building, and improving individual outcomes for highly complex individuals. She brings a unique ability to pivot perspectives from provider, to payer, to regulator.

Marissa has worked with the Iowa Department of Human Services since 2018. Prior to stepping into her current role, she served as the policy director for Iowa Medicaid, where she led program management and policy development across the full spectrum of Iowa’s Medicaid program. Throughout her career, Marissa has focused on leveraging systems and teams to achieve high quality outcomes. She has led improvements in organizational structure, managed programs, and developed policy by building strong partnerships, articulating clear vision and aligning to purpose. She is committed to building successful teams and to strengthening relationships that will improve systems and services that ensure that all individuals and families have an opportunity to succeed.

Marissa is a life-long small-town Iowan and graduate of Iowa State University. She and her husband have two children and enjoy time spent with family, their pets, and travelling.