Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council Names Kara Johnson-Hufford CEO

DENVER, May 1, 2023 – Kara Johnson-Hufford, MPA will join the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council (CBHC) as Chief Executive Officer May 30, 2023. She succeeds Doyle Forrestal, who is retiring as of June 30. Johnson-Hufford comes to the organization from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment where she has been since 2014, most recently as Deputy Division Director - Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services Division

“CBHC’s board of directors conducted a national search when Doyle announced her retirement last fall,” said CBHC board chair Michael Allen, CEO of SummitStone Health Partners. “We are fortunate to have found the best candidate in our own backyard. Kara’s deep understanding of Colorado’s healthcare landscape, her background in behavioral health, and her leadership expertise are the ideal combination of skills to lead our members and the communities they serve through the ongoing transformation of Colorado’s behavioral healthcare system.”

Johnson-Hufford offered, “I am thrilled at the opportunity to join CBHC. Colorado’s community mental health centers are the bedrock of our behavioral health safety net, and I look forward to working on their behalf with policymakers and stakeholders to ensure our behavioral health system is accessible to all Coloradans.”

Prior to being named Deputy Division Director in 2021, Johnson-Hufford served as Associate Division Director, Branch Chief and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Community Services Section Manager for CDPHE’s Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services Division. She moved there from the Division for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the Colorado Department of Human Services, after having worked for both nonprofit providers and the Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare. She received a Master in Public Administration degree from the University of Colorado-Denver and holds a Bachelor of Psychology degree from Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho.

During her tenure at CDPHE, Johnson-Hufford was appointed by Gov. Jared Polis to serve on the Colorado Dept. of Human Services’ Mental Health Advisory Board and was a member of CDPHE’s Behavioral Health Entity Implementation and Advisory Committee since late 2019.


The Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council (CBHC) envisions a state where all people can lead healthy, purposeful lives. Our member organizations represent a statewide network of care providers, including Colorado’s community mental health centers and two specialty health clinics. Together, we strengthen Colorado communities by ensuring innovative care and supporting the health, wellbeing and safety of all Coloradans.   

Contact:         Edie Sonn, Senior Director - External Affairs,, (720) 201-7307