Behavioral Health Director Michael Horn Retires with a Bang

(L-R) Ryan Kelley, Michael Kelley, Michael Horn, Conchita Horn, Ray Castillo, John Renison and Jack Terrazas.

EL CENTRO – On the occasion of his retirement and in appreciation of 36 years of valuable leadership, achievements and exceptional dedication to the County of Imperial, Behavioral Health Director Michael W. Horn was presented with a plaque from the Imperial County Board of Supervisors during Tuesday’s board meeting where dozens of Behavioral Health employees attended to witness the emotional moment.

Horn began working in Imperial County in 1975 at the Department of Social Services as an eligibility worker, and he was promoted to social worker in 1978 and eventually attained the position of supervisor.

“I’ve known Mike since 1977 and it has always been a pleasure for all of these years working with him,” said Ray Castillo, District 5 Supervisor. “He has been a great leader, and we are definitely going to miss him.”

Horn began his career at Behavioral Health as continuing care coordinator in 1987 and in recognition of his leadership skills and professionalism, he was promoted to adult services manager in 1989, deputy director of clinical services in 1996, and director of Behavioral Services in 1999, holding the position for 17 years.

As Imperial County Behavioral Health Director, Horn oversaw a dramatic expansion of services to the Imperial County community as well as the increase of the number of employees from 100 to 500 and from 1,200 patients to a record breaking 7,000 in 2016.

Horn’s highlights in his career include collaborative efforts with agency partners, regionalization to improve access to service, implementation of evidenced–based best practices and integration with primary care.

Under Horn’s leadership, Behavioral Health greatly expanded both the scope of the care it offered and the geographic reach of its services to the community, including ensuring access in even the county’s most remote areas. The department now operates in 14 community clinics and is co-located on 18 different school campuses throughout the county. Additionally, four more community-based clinics are in development.

The commitment is reflected in the resources now dedicated to Behavioral Health, which have grown from $8 million annually to more than $60 million under Horn’s administration. The past and continued efforts are the embodiment of what has always been Horn’s main objective: ensuring all Imperial County residents have access to the best care available.

“Horn’s integrity, responsibility and humanitarian nature have made an impact in our department, community and in all those who have had the opportunity to work with him,” said Jack Terrazas, chairman. “Michael is a proven change leader whose inspirational vision and pursuit of excellence has formed Imperial County Behavioral Health Services into an innovative and progressive department acknowledged throughout the State.”

Showing their gratitude under Horn’s direction, dozens of employees wore t-shirts that said “You’re the Man,” while others waived posters, flags and pictures with Horn’s face and all together, gave him a standing ovation as one employee crowned him with a big red king’s crown.

“He has the attitude and the personality,” said Michael Kelley, District 3 supervisor. “It’s so pleasant for me to see a department that is full of joy and appreciation. There is nothing more I can say that hasn’t been said by your (Behavioral Health employees) presence and applause for Mr. Horn. I wish him the best of luck in the years to come.”

“It’s unbelievable – it looks like 100 percent support for you and your factorship over the years of the County’s Behavioral Health Department,” said John Renison, District 1 supervisor. “Any time I run into any BHS people they are always great at what they do, dedicated and you are an example to all of us.”

“I’ve never seen anyone go out with such a big bang,” said Supervisor Jack Terrazas. “Not only in support by his staff, but the expansion of the department.”

Horn attributes the department’s success to his excellent staff and the support of the county Board of Supervisors, partnering agencies and the general community.

“Behavioral Health is well-positioned for the future, and I think with the kind of people that we have, we can do it,” said Horn. “We have an excellent organization staffed by incredible people. We have high productivity standards, high outcome standards, and we work very well as a team. I grew up in Holtville and one of the things I am most proud of in the department is all these people came from here. There is nothing people from Imperial County cannot do.”

Horn is a life-long resident of Imperial Valley, graduating from Holtville High, Imperial Valley College and San Diego State University. He has been married to his wife, Conchita, for 38 years. Mike and Conchita have three children, Lindsay Ortega, an associate planner for the City of Anaheim, Marissa Horn, a research biologist for Ely Lily Pharmaceuticals, and Michael Horn, a supervisor for Disability Insurance Services Corporation.