Jefferson Center and WellPower to Merge on 7/1/24
November 16, 2023 — We are thrilled to announce that Jefferson Center and WellPower, both locally and nationally recognized community mental health centers, will merge into one non-profit organization to serve Clear Creek, Denver, Gilpin and Jefferson County communities on July 1, 2024. The merger creates the largest and most innovative behavioral health provider in Colorado with an unparalleled array of programs and services.
A Video Message from Dr. Kuenzler and Dr. Clark
The Demand for Behavioral Health Services is Greater Than Ever
One in four Coloradans report that their mental health is poor, suicide is the number one cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24 and the opioid and fentanyl epidemic remain wildly unchecked. The toll of the unmet need in Colorado has resulted in dire and heartbreaking consequences for individuals and families.
We know that the behavioral health system in Colorado is undergoing significant change – from regulatory functions and funding to a growing need for services – and we must adapt for the future. As we planned for these changes and evaluated what it would take to thrive in the newly emerging system, we conducted a comprehensive assessment and explored many options.
From the start of our partnership exploration, our primary focus has always been on people. This journey has revolved around how we can better serve the people within our communities and how we can provide enhanced support to our dedicated staff. Our goal remains clear: to maximize our impact for those we serve and ensure that staff needs are met.
A Brand-New Way to Serve Colorado
Joining our two organizations is a powerful solution. It builds on our two organizations’ strengths and shared values – including a deep commitment to diversity, equity, inclusiveness and belonging – allows us to fill gaps in specialized care, expands our workforce and programming and creates opportunities with technology and other innovations.
The strengths of our two organizations combined will enable us to meet the needs of our communities in a way that has never been seen before in Colorado. Jefferson Center and WellPower both have deep expertise in the realm of behavioral health and have reputations as local and national leaders in the field. Both organizations are financially strong, with adequate reserves, operating revenue and assets to strengthen a combined organization.
This merger is a bold response, ensuring that we are prepared to be Colorado’s leading community behavioral health provider for decades to come. We have a strategic vision of stepping into the future together to ensure all people in our communities can access the comprehensive care they need without barriers.
Stepping Forward Together
- This is a true partnership of equals, not an acquisition. Jefferson Center and WellPower have had a positive and collaborative relationship over the years, sharing innovative practices and advocating for positive systems change.
- Dr. Kiara Kuenzler will serve as the President and Dr. Carl Clark will be the CEO until his retirement; at that time, Dr. Kuenzler will assume the expanded role of President and CEO. As CEOs, Carl and Kiara have developed mutual trust, respect and thoughtful communication about how best to partner.
- The new Board of Directors and leadership teams of both organizations will be combined and will fairly represent the expanded region served.
- Having more staff in key parts of the organization will help us close gaps in existing operations while being able to put more capacity toward new priorities. Clinical services and administrative functions will come together thoughtfully over time.
- The merged organization will keep the WellPower name and will pursue a merger under the Jefferson Center 501c3 organization. The assets of WellPower will be folded into the legal entity of Jefferson Center.
Integrating our two organizations into one requires an intentional investment of time, resources and expertise. We want to make sure we fully and thoughtfully engage our teams and stakeholders. At this point, we anticipate a July 1, 2024 official merger date, and will provide updates as available.
There has never been a period of time of greater transformation in behavioral health than there is right now. By coming together, we can meet the needs of our community faster and more effectively than we could ever do alone.
We look forward to many more conversations as together we transform into a new us; a new WellPower.
Dr. Kiara Kuenzler | President and CEO | Jefferson Center
Dr. Carl Clark | President and CEO | WellPower
Frequently Asked Questions
Jefferson Center and WellPower will combine on July 1, 2024, to create one community mental health center providing the most comprehensive continuum of mental health and substance use care in Colorado. This merger will unite our programs, personnel, and administrative functions with a shared commitment to serving Clear Creek, Denver, Gilpin, and Jefferson County regions.
We explored several different scenarios, and for financial and business reasons, decided to fold the assets of WellPower into the legal entity of Jefferson Center and rename this entity as WellPower. The WellPower name has been well received and provides us with the ability to represent the breadth of our programs and the communities we serve.
Both Jefferson Center and WellPower have a long history of serving our communities deeply and intentionally, each experts in providing behavioral health solutions that improve the health and well-being of people living in Colorado. Over the course of several years, both organizations have explored opportunities and collaborations to reach and serve more people, broaden our community impact, and forge a more sustainable path forward. These efforts have led us to the decision to merge Jefferson Center and WellPower into a single non-profit entity.
From the start of our partnership exploration, our primary focus has always been on people. This journey has revolved around how we can better serve the people within our communities and how we can provide enhanced support to the dedicated employees who make up our organizations. Our goal remains clear: to maximize our impact on those we serve and ensure that our staff’s needs are met.
The behavioral health system in Colorado is undergoing significant upheaval – from regulatory functions to funding – and we must adapt for the future. Given the level of change and the need for us to thrive in the newly emerging system, we conducted a comprehensive planning process to ensure we are prepared to be Colorado’s leading community behavioral health provider for decades to come.
The demand for behavioral health services is greater than ever. One in four Coloradans report that their mental health is poor; suicide is the number one cause of death for our young people ages 10 to 24 and the opioid and fentanyl epidemic remain wildly unchecked. The toll of the unmet need in Colorado has resulted in dire and heartbreaking consequences for the individual, their loved ones, and communities.
The clinical workforce shortage in Colorado and across our nation is severe. Nearly half of all Americans will have a behavioral health issue in their lifetime, from a mood disorder to problematic substance use. The scarcity of behavioral health professionals is undermining people’s ability to get timely care. It is imperative that we find solutions, both short and long-term, to address these vacancies.
To remain competitive, we must have the financial resources and expertise to hire and retain staff, innovate, adapt, and meet the changing needs of our communities. Our alignment is a bold response to the emergent challenges and models under which both organizations have operated for more than 60 years. We have a strategic vision of stepping into the future, together, to ensure people in our community receive the comprehensive care they need without barriers.
This new organization will continue to serve the people and communities of Jefferson Center and WellPower including the Clear Creek, Denver, Gilpin, and Jefferson County regions. The current areas served by the two community mental health centers share both geographical proximity and align with some of our payors, as well as overlap in many of the populations and characteristics of the communities we serve.
This is a merger of two equal and financially strong organizations. From the beginning of this process, we put forward our value of coming together as equal partners in this new entity. That has driven our approach as well as all our decisions.
Dr. Kiara Kuenzler will serve as the president and Dr. Carl Clark will be the CEO until his retirement; at that time, Dr. Kuenzler will assume the expanded role of president and CEO. As CEOs, Carl and Kiara have developed mutual trust, respect, and thoughtful communication about how best to partner.
The Boards of Directors and leadership teams of both organizations will be combined and will fairly represent the expanded region served.
Jefferson Center and WellPower are both financially strong organizations, with adequate reserves, operating revenue, and assets to strengthen a combined organization.
Your funds will continue to power the mission of serving all in our community dealing with behavioral health challenges. With this partnership we will be able to expand our programmatic offerings and will continue to need support from donors like you to continue to make care accessible to all in our new expanded region.
We will not cut staff and will instead align skills and knowledge with needed positions. As we move forward with the merger, our primary focus is to leverage the strengths of both organizations to enhance our capabilities and better serve people and communities. Combining these two organizations will likely lead to expanded employment, leadership and growth opportunities overall.
There are no plans to close programs; in fact, we anticipate an expansion of our programs. Each organization has unique programs, approaches, and treatment options. Through this merger, we are excited about the prospect of broadening our program offerings to deliver even more specialized care and treatment choices. Following the merger, look for more information on our expanded continuum of services.
The people we serve were notified of the intention to merge through a variety of methods including email, postal mail and through their care teams beginning on November 16, 2023.
This announcement will not impact the people we serve immediately; there will not be a change in their care team or any other part of their care. In the future, through our combined programs, people will have access to an expanded network of services that foster wellbeing, promote recovery, support healthy communities, and empower individuals at every stage of their recovery journey.
This announcement will not impact our community partners immediately. Programs will not close. If there are changes to your program contacts, we will notify you as soon as possible.