On November 3, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2017 Health and Human Services Hero Awards to recognize the unsung heroes in our community whose actions, thoughts and words have had a transformative impact in our region. For the rest of the month, we will be highlighting our ten honorees in our Community Heroes Series.



Name: Dawan Utecht

Occupation: Director of Behavioral Health, County of Fresno

Nominated by: CHHS Dean’s Council of Ambassadors

As the director of Behavioral Health for the County of Fresno, Dawan Utecht was instrumental in bringing a mental health rehabilitation center to Fresno County, as well as an inpatient psychiatric health facility for adolescents – both of which filled a much-needed service in the Valley.

Utecht has been addressing healthcare locally for nearly 26 years, in a variety of settings and professions. In her role with the County of Fresno, she has been at the forefront of behavioral health crisis and management, working closing with the court system, public health services, law enforcement and emergency medical providers to develop solutions to provide care for persons involved in the justice system or those at risk.

Under her leadership, Utecht has ensured consistent expansion of mental health and substance use disorder services across the county, greatly improving the systems of care for the people they serve.

Her journey in the healthcare field began in 1991 as a physical therapist at the newly formed San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. During that time, she began teaching in the Department of Physical Therapy at Fresno State, as a part-time lecturer. While at the hospital, Utecht moved up the ranks, eventually becoming the district manager of outpatient services of the western region.

Throughout her seasoned career, Utecht served in many leadership roles, including director of rehabilitation services and vice president of continuum of care for Community Medical Centers, C.E.O. of Community Behavioral Health Services, and director of behavioral health/public guardian for the County of Fresno.


The 2017 Health and Human Services Hero Awards, which celebrates heroes from each of the seven departments, as well as centers and institutes within our college, will be held on November 3, 2017 at Fresno State. For more information on the event, contact Beth Wilkinson at 559.278.3603 or bwilkinson@csufresno.edu.