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Home » Uncategorized » New executive director takes the helm of CHI

New executive director takes the helm of CHI


Thursday, May 14, 2020; Silver City, NM: After conducting a nationwide search, the Center for Health Innovation (CHI) is pleased to announce a familiar face will take the helm of the organization. Susan Wilger will step into the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for CHI effective in 2020.

Susan Wilver, CHI Chief Executive Officer

CHI Board President Dr. Magdaleno Manzanarez said, “Wilger has been with the Center for Health Innovation since its inception. She has a profound sense of responsibility to the organization and its staff.”

“I joined CHI in 2011 when it was still a division of Hidalgo Medical Services,” Wilger said.

Previously, Wilger had served as Clinic Coordinator and Behavioral Health Services at the Cobre and Silver School-based Health Centers in Grant County, overseeing the administrative side of the operations before joining the CHI department.

In 2015 when CHI formed as its own freestanding nonprofit, Wilger joined the fledgling organization as Associate Director under the leadership of then CEO Charlie Alfero.

CHI rapidly expanded over the last five years to become New Mexico’s designated Public Health Institute due to its dedication in advancing health and social justice through innovative and effective programs and policies.

With a background in direct services including clinical care, policy-making, management and resource development, Wilger has the diverse work experience to lead a public health institute. Also, Wilger has over 40 years of experience with nonprofits.

She has a master’s degree in public policy, a human resource certification, and is a licensed professional counselor for alcohol counseling.

“Wilger knows all the details that make our organization work,” Manzanarez said.

Wilger plans to “form a strong public health alliance with key statewide players for better informed decision-making.”

Part of this effort was a recently funded Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to develop sustainable learning health systems to meet the prevention, treatment, and recovery needs of rural residents. The program engaged community leaders and stakeholders in 16 rural counties in southern New Mexico.

She is also aiding with the transition of the New Mexico Community Data Collaborative (NMCDC) to CHI from the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). The collaborative of volunteers maps public health data for easier access and understanding for communities.

“We are looking to affect policy and get real time reliable data to communities for informed decision making,” Wilger says of the effort.

Wilger adds, “As the state’s public health institute, CHI also influences health-related workforce development with Area Health Education Centers which improves public health through education and place-based health planning.”

CHI also oversees community substance use prevention coalitions in Cibola, Doña Ana, Grant and Luna Counties. The nonprofit also offers an academic detailing service which educates opioid prescribers on evidence-based medicine management of patients with chronic pain. The service is expanding statewide thanks to the support of the NMDOH.

“CHI’s collaboration around the state speaks volumes of our fairly new organization,” noted Manzanarez.

Wilger said, “My goal is to position CHI to positively impact the state.”

Wilger will be replacing the organization’s previous founder and first CEO Charlie Alfero, who will remain as Executive Adviser to the nonprofit.

Holley H. Hudgins, CHI Associate Director

Holley H. Hudgins will be stepping into the Associate Director role that Wilger has vacated.

“Hudgins comes from a different experience at a hospital and established management with a wealth of knowledge that will serve CHI well,” said Manzanarez. “They are a strong team that makes my job easier.”

For more information contact Wilger at (575) 597-0039 or email Visit the CHI website at