The Mesa County employee behind the effort to fire Public Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr

Lisa Rickerd Mills (Photo: Facebook)

Lisa Mills is a behavioral health strategies manager for Mesa County’s Department of Health and Human Services and by all indications seems to be a key figure in the County’s recent ongoing, unhinged efforts to take down Dr. Jeff Kuhr as longtime Director of the Mesa County Public Health Department (MCPHD).

How Mills’ campaign to oust Kuhr started

In 2022, Mills was working on a program aimed at helping people successfully transition from jail or prison back into society, and reducing mental health calls to police. The program was jointly funded by the Colorado Department of Human Services’ Office of Behavioral Health, which contributed $400,000, and St. Mary’s Hospital and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, which each contributed $300,000, making it a $1 million program.

At first, Mills worked out of the offices of MCPHD, but it was a mismatch.

Mills did not report to MCPHD Director Jeff Kuhr. Rather, Mills’ immediate superior was Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland, so in the course of her job, Mills ended up telling Health Department staff how Rowland wanted things to be done. But since the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and MCPHD are two completely separate subdivisions of the state, and since the BOCC is a political subdivision, the county commissioners aren’t supposed to  influence what goes on at Public Health. Because of this mismatch, Kuhr referred Mills to work under Criminal Justice Services, which is a part of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), to carry out the project, believing she would be a better fit there. In late 2022, Mills successfully established a Behavioral Health Crisis Response Team that partnered with county law enforcement to go on mental health calls, de-escalate potential conflicts and reduce the need for law enforcement to get involved in mental health calls.

By all accounts it was a laudable program and would seem to have been a happy ending for Mills.

But instead Mills apparently harbored resentment towards Kuhr for sending her away from the Health Department to Criminal Justice Services. In her text messages she expresses unhappiness about the move, saying “I have a good record, no reason to push me out…” and she was “appalled” at how the change came down.

Text messages between Rowland and Mills from September 2, 2022 to February 7, 2023 obtained through an Open Records Act request to the County show that Mills was upset at the transition out of MCPHD.

All of the texts obtained came from Janet Rowland’s cell phone.

Texts marked “outgoing” came from Rowland. The ones marked “incoming” are Mills’.

The texts reveal that Mills was feeding Rowland bits of information and opinions aimed defaming and impugning Kuhr, cultivating mistrust of him, calling his motives into question and portraying things he was doing as nefarious.

Mills seemed determined to get back at Kuhr by using her direct contact with Rowland in a way that defamed Kuhr and harmed his reputation.

A couple of take-aways from the text messages overall:

Both Mills and Rowland seem to share a strong mutual dislike of Kuhr, and the messages potentiate that dislike. Over a period of months starting in September of 2022, Mills started feeding Rowland information that seems designed to make Rowland question Kuhr’s financial actions, his motives and honesty as MCPHD Director.

Rowland eagerly seized on the information Mills provided to her, and without ever approaching Kuhr to ask him for his side of the story Mills was telling, and without ever giving Kuhr a chance to respond to any of the accusations Mills was making, Rowland simply took Mills’ information and used it to embark on a prolonged, multi-faceted effort to push Kuhr out.

Mills in an MCSO police car, in a photo taken for an article in the Daily Sentinel about the program to reduce recitivism (Photo: Daily Sentinel)

The entire 19 pages of the texts between Rowland and Mills can be accessed here.(pdf)

Below are two excerpts from the many pages of text messages between Mills and Rowland, to give readers a sense of what they are like.

Messages labeled “Outgoing” were written by Rowland, messages labeled “Incoming” are written by Mills. In some places where Rowland is responding to a text from Lisa, and the next text seems to make no sense, the text Rowland is responding to is missing.


Text messages exchanged between Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland and County employee Lisa Mills belittle MCPHD Director Jeff Kuhr over his weight and portray him as forming insincere friendships


Text messages between Lisa Mills and Janet Rowland accuse MCPHD Director without proof, of “getting by with crap,” being “like someone who embezzles or cheats” and of being a “quasi functioning alcoholic”


Photo posted by Janet Rowland on her Facebook page. Lisa Rickerd Mills is shown circled.

So who is Lisa Mills, anyway?

A background check reveals that Lisa Mills has gone by several names, including Lisa Rickerd, Lisa K. Schiavi, Lisa Kaylene Mills Rickerd, Lisa Kaylene Schiavi, Lisa Rickerd Schiavi and others.

Mills became registered with the state as a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) under the name “Lisa Mills” in 2018, and according to state records, worked in a hospital setting from June 2018 to February 2019.

In October, 2020 Mills was subject to disciplinary action by the Colorado Board of Social Work Examiners (pdf).

The Social Work Board, responding to a complaint against Mills (Complaint #2019-2630) found that while she was working at the hospital, Mills “failed to conduct and document an adequate suicide risk assessment of a patient,” and her “discharge plans were inadequate.” The Social Work Board found Mills failed to meet the generally-accepted standards of her profession and that she has falsified or repeatedly made incorrect essential entries or repeatedly failed to make essential entries on patient records.” The Social Work Board officially admonished Mills, ordered her to take additional continuing education classes about documentation and risk assessment, make sure the classes were approved by the Board first, and told her she had to pay for them herself.

Mills’ bankruptcies and court judgments

In the early 2000s, Mills lived in Pittsfield, Massachusetts under the name Lisa K. Schiavi, where she incurred two bankruptcies and several court judgments. One civil judgment against her was filed September 9, 2005 in Pittsfield, MA in the amount of $11,581.00, and the other was filed June 6, 2005 for $13,509. In the latter judgment (for the $13,509), the plaintiff in the case  was Discover Bank, indicating Mills may have been over her head in credit card debt.

Evidence of Lisa Mills/Lisa K. Schiavi/Lisa Rickerd bankruptcy filing in MA


Publicly available documents raise questions about Lisa Mills’ professional and fiscal abilities, while MCPHD Director Jeff Kuhr has racked up over a decade of good management of the Mesa County Health Department, its programs and financial health. Kuhr has no record of any professional or government sanctions. He’s won plaudits for how he’s run the health department during the pandemic and the State of Colorado rates MCPHD as having the lowest possible financial risk (pdf) in its compliance with federal and state contracts, an extremely fiscally responsible record that helps keep MCPHD well funded.

Maybe the Commissioners should be looking at Mills and Rowland and the irresponsible way they have handled county affairs, instead of working to impugn Kuhr, who by all accounts has been a good steward of the county Health Department, and who has been unfairly defamed and harassed by Mills and Rowland and given no opportunity to defend himself.

  13 comments for “The Mesa County employee behind the effort to fire Public Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr

    • They make promises to mean, stupid, small-minded people that they’ll drag Western Colorado back to the 50’s, where white, cisgendered Christians could do whatever they wanted to anyone else.

      Progress terrifies them, and tolerance makes them furious.

  1. The Mesa County GOP is openly, blatantly corrupt, mostly because their constituency allows them to be, as long as they assure them that Baby Jesus approves of all their actions.

  2. Anne, after reading the full list of texts you linked to in this article, it appears that your assessment of what has transpired is spot on. It would be interesting to see what was in some of the emails referenced in the texts.

    It is really sad that Jeff Kuhr’s career is in jeopardy because of two petty vindictive people, one with hurt feelings and the other with power through her position and access to the media.

    I found one of the last texts from Janet Rowland interesting. This was after three months of bashing Jeff Kuhr.

    “It’s so funny. Jeff is trying to convince people that I have a grudge against him and that’s why I am “coming after him“.
    In reality, he is the one with the grudge.”

    Janet, if it isn’t a grudge, what is it, malicious spite?

  3. Instead of being a positive influencer, a possible mentor it is a shame that J. Rowland instead fueled the frustrations of L. Mills.
    Providing guidance and challenging J. Kuhr’s decision in a professional (transparent) manner would probably have resulted in a better outcome for everyone.

    • But girls will be girls and texting is a powerful tool.

      It’s tragic that taxpayer money is being spent on this political BS. They are all to blame, in my book. They scratch and claw for power and position…create these weird relationships, spend oodles of *our* money and then act all surprised when they get called on it.

      “I’m just a humble public servant making $190,000 per year plus benefits.”

      • Wow Alice! Get a Grip…”girls will be girls”?? Please do not exclude men from their tendency for pettiness and pay back ! !
        Also you missed my point of the potential of Rowland serving as a positive role model. So Let me clarify.
        As I read it, for years Rowland has held positions of authority/power, ceaselessly pursuing any opportunity to rise to the top. This is fine.
        But along the way she should have picked up on a certain wisdom , manner of professionalism and finesse that would have prompted her to exhibit a diplomatic means to address any untenable issue she encounters. It appears the acquisition of wisdom, professionalism etc. did not happen for Janet R. and she instead resorts to dubious posturing backed by ill guided power.
        Kinda scary- in reality!

        • I would never imply that men can’t be as corrupt as women.

          Since I am relatively new here, I can’t speak to Rowland’s character. But I do know that Anne and her merry band of lefties hate her…

          Which, if I am honest, predisposed me to like her. 🙂

          And I am pretty sure, based on what I’ve been reading, Jeff Kuhr has been bending and ignoring the rules for as long as Janet has been climbing her particular mountain.

          I’m glad you think honesty and good intentions are still possible.

  4. Great leftist actic, Anne. Dirty up Lisa Mills and only post the stuff about Jeff Kuhr that isn’t “too bad”.

    I have to give myself credit…I saw the “grant lady”, Roxanne, as probably being a huge problem…but you misdirected by repeatedly mentioning $219 for alcohol.

    After reading this stuff, I feel like I need a shower. Government grifters playing around with public money.

    • “The grant lady” brought in MILLIONS. She made the Clifton campus child care project happen, and Rose Puglease KNEW.

  5. “In 2022, Mills was working on a program aimed at helping people successfully transition from jail or prison back into society, and reducing mental health calls to police.” The jail and court system in Mesa County imprison, delay, punish and spit people out after having lost them their jobs, housing, health insurance, access to food, id’s and connections with society. The aims of the program are great, but the mental health system in the county is pathetic, in large part because Rowland has attacked it and its funding over the course of her terms as a county commissioner. To reduce homelessness, address mental health issues adequately, reintegrate people back into society with access to food, housing and jobs will take planning, resources and care far beyond what Janet Rowland can imagine, let alone implement. This load was far beyond what Mills/Schiavi was capable of managing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *