Chief Executive Officer
MEO & Associates
Apache Junction, AZ, United States
Field: Health Services
With nearly 40 years of experience in the health care sector, Maria-Elena Ochoa, MBA is a pioneer in mental health and substance abuse services. As the chief executive officer of MEO & Associates, she focuses the nonprofit work on assisting underserved communities. Her daily responsibilities include integrating primary care into behavioral mental health substance abuse services, facilitating collaboration among state agencies and community-based organizations, negotiating contracts, and representing the governor at community events and presentations. She also oversees the division for women in The Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families, where she coordinates and staffs the governor’s commission to prevent violence against women, grants management and statewide outreach.
Ms. Ochoa laid the foundation for her successful career by earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Arizona State University. Subsequently, she received an MBA in health care administration from the University of Phoenix. “I became involved in my profession because I wanted to make a difference for underserved populations on a statewide level,” she states.
As the recipient of the Gamma Alpha Omega Latina Excellence Award for Science and Medicine, Ms. Ochoa has undoubtedly cemented a strong presence in the field. She believes she has found success throughout her career due to her genuine passion for assisting others. Additionally, she relies on a strong work ethic, education and resilience to establish long-lasting relationships with those in her field. “There are a lot of people who always think inside the box. I am very much the opposite; I’m always an outside of the box person,” she states.
Though now a successful CEO of her own company, Ms. Ochoa has a stable background of successful experiences. She was part of the executive leadership team at Valle Del Sol from 2003 to 2007. Starting off as the vice president of prevention and family services, she was later promoted to chief operating officer. In addition, she worked at Marc Center for more than 24 years, where she served as the director of behavioral health services.
Wholeheartedly dedicated to her community, Ms. Ochoa spends her spare time with various charitable organizations. She is affiliated with the Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, the Arizona Women’s Heritage Trail and the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers, among many others.
Conversation with Maria-Elena Ochoa, MBA
Worldwide Publishing: On what topic(s) do you consider yourself to be an expert?
Maria-Elena Ochoa, MBA: Nonprofit work focused on an undeserved community.
What characteristics help to separate you from your competitors?
My perspective is different. There are a lot of people who always think inside the box. I am very much the opposite; I’m always an outside of the box person.
What motivates you?
Being able to make a difference in people’s lives; whether it be individually or organizationally, and on a community and policy level.
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
Integrated services that address the whole person, and focusing on mental health environment, education and wellness.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
When organizations and systems can make a cultural shift, and have a vision and infrastructure and support staff.
What lessons have you learned as a professional in your field?
You must identify what you are going after, clearly and strategically, and try and plan for every step of the way, if possible, until you achieve the objective or goal. Always know what the intended outcome is and always keep that in your vision.