Called to Serve - HSNT Board Member Spotlight
When you boil it down, Judge Chance Oliver is responsible for making decisions about where people should go. His field is criminal law, specifically in misdemeanors, and being a judge means having to make those decisions according to the law. As a board member with Health Services of North Texas, his job is also about where HSNT should go as an organization – and he’s not the first judge to have served on the board.
“I came to know about this board through two former members, Judge David Garcia and Judge Robert Ramirez,” Judge Oliver says. “It wasn’t until Judge Ramirez asked me if I’d be interested in the position, and I asked what it was about.”
Judge Oliver started his law career in 1997. After interning at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, he knew criminal law was where he belonged. His brother was a police officer in Carrollton and, in an effort to be closer to family, Judge Oliver looked for places nearby that he’d be willing to move to. He landed in Denton and started work as the Assistant District Attorney.
“I thought I’d be up here just two years and then I’d go back to Houston, but then I met my wife and I’ve been here ever since,” Judge Oliver says with a laugh.
Judge Oliver started serving on the board in April of 2021, working on the Quality Control Committee, and as he’s listened and learned he’s been able to offer a fresh perspective on HSNT’s services, goals, and operations.
“As a new person [I’m seeing] all these numbers, and so I ask if this is a good goal or if that’s a bad goal. I’m a process-improvement guy, that’s what I’m known as among the judges, making sure that we’re using the right tools and the right people and asking the right questions, not just doing it the way we’ve always done it.”
The one thing that really drew him to serve on the board was the behavioral health services that HSNT offers to the community.
“[In addition to being a judge], I’m also in charge of a mental health diversion grant program,” Judge Oliver says. “That’s a new program we just started in the last 6 months, here in Texas, to try to divert people from the jail before they get there and get into trouble when they should really be getting treatment. That’s one of the things I volunteer to do, especially since mental health’s been something that’s touched my family.”