On June 1st 2017, Santa Cruz County was very excited to welcome a new Chief of Substance Use Disorder Services, Shaina Zura. Talk About It was able to touch base with Shaina to learn more about why she works in this field, her vision for substance use disorder services in Santa Cruz County, and some of the things she is excited about.
Talk About It (TAI): Tell us a little about your background. How did you end up as the Chief of Substance Use Disorder Services?
Shaina: I have spent the past 15 years in community-based behavioral health services, with over 11 years focused specifically on substance use disorder service provision and administration. In my work with non-profit organizations I designed and implemented programs, navigated collaborative partnerships with varying stakeholders, conducted trainings, and led multidisciplinary teams. As an LCSW, my clinical expertise lies in gender responsive, trauma- informed care and motivational interventions. When the opportunity of the position of Chief of Substance Use Disorder Services with the County of Santa Cruz arose, it felt like a great match for my skill set and a unique prospect to utilize the body of knowledge I have been building throughout my career.
TAI: You said you are an LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) which can be a very diverse job. What motivated you to focus on substance use disorders specifically?
Shaina: Substance use disorders impact families and communities pervasively, profoundly and indiscriminately. Historically underrecognized and underserved, people who struggle with substance use and the associated trauma have immense capacities for positive societal impact if they are afforded an opportunity to heal and achieve wellness by a system that understands their unique needs. Facilitating that opportunity is what fuels my work.
TAI: What is your vision for Santa Cruz County Substance Use Disorders Services?
Shaina: There is a very clear vision for the future of Substance Use Disorder Services as part of an integrated Behavioral Health system. We intend to expand service accessibility, unite providers into a comprehensive network, and more successfully meet the demands of our community. Our efforts are supported by the Drug Medi-Cal expansion, which brings exciting opportunities for growth.
TAI: Substance Use Disorder Services is a recent name change for your department, formally the Alcohol and Drug Program? Why the change?
Shaina: The science of substance use disorders is more advanced than ever, providing us with medical and clinical data that fuels interventions and leads to strong outcomes. The evolution of the department name comes alongside our current approaches, developing consistency with how we identify and operate the department.
TAI: What are you are most excited about living and working in Santa Cruz County?
Shaina: As a former resident of both San Francisco and Oakland, Santa Cruz was one of my preferred weekend getaways. There are beautiful beaches and mountains to explore, and a progressive culture to enjoy. Living here has quickly turned my every weekend into a new adventure.
TAI: What are some of the things that you do for self-care?
Shaina: I prioritize my physical health with a plant-based diet and regular exercise via a gym routine and lots of outdoor activities. I like to travel, whether it be an international flight or a drive to a new town, as it helps me to stay grounded. I feed my creative side by making art on the living room floor. I am working on my doctorate, as learning and growing helps me be a better person in the world. I actively engage in identifying the things I am grateful for, as not to take them for granted. And, every once in a while I give myself permission to indulge in the art of doing absolutely nothing.
Please join us in welcoming Shaina and say hi if you see her around the community--perhaps giving a presentation on Drug Medi-Cal expansion. We look forward to Shaina's leadership and working together.