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Phoenix VA Health Care System

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Leadership Team

Portrait of Deborah Amdur

Deborah Amdur | 602-277-5551 x7891

Medical Center Director

Ms. Amdur was appointed Medical Center Director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System effective December 2015. In this position, she oversees all aspects of this complexity level 1b, tertiary care hospital providing a full range of services to over 86,000 Arizona Veterans. Established in 1951, the hospital also operates community health care clinics in Gilbert, Central Phoenix, Scottsdale, Payson (Contract), Show Low, Globe and Surprise, Arizona. The Phoenix VA Health Care System is a teaching hospital, providing a full range of patient care services with state-of-the-art technology and research. The hospital has 166 hospital beds, 104 Long Term Care Beds, and 24 Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program beds.

Ms. Amdur previously served as Medical Center Director in White River Junction (WRJ), Vermont, a complexity level 2 facility with a catchment area of over 73,000 Veterans who reside in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Ms. Amdur started her career as a social work intern at the St. Louis VA Medical Center over 20 years ago. She has held progressive leadership positions including Deputy Director for Health, Federal Recovery Coordination Program, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs at VA Central Office and Assistant Director at the Washington D.C. VAMC. She also served as Chief of Social Work at the Ann Arbor and D.C. VAMCs and the Director of Home Based Primary Care at the Durham VA. In her recent role as Chief Consultant, Care Management and Social Work Service, Ms. Amdur was instrumental in the development and implementation of VA's national caregiver support program.

Ms. Amdur holds a Master of Social Work from Washington University, St. Louis and a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University.


Portrait of Steven R Hillberg

Steven R Hillberg | (602)277-5551

Deputy Medical Center Director

Mr. Steve Hillberg was appointed the Deputy Director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System in November 2015. In his role Mr. Hillberg helps direct a level 1b tertiary care facility serving Veterans in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as outpatient clinics located in Gilbert, Central Phoenix, Scottsdale, Payson (Contract), Show Low, Globe and Surprise, Arizona.

Mr. Hillberg has over 11 years of experience with the Department of Veterans Affairs and has served in progressive roles of responsibility during this time. He began his career with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Revenue Manager for the Medical Care Cost Recovery program at the VA Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD starting in 2005. He later performed duties as the Facility Strategic Planner and as the Acting Chief of Engineering Service, Business Office Manager and Associate Director positions before relocating to VISN 18 in 2011. During his time in VISN 18, Mr. Hillberg has held the Strategic Planner position as well as served a 13-month period as the Acting VISN 18 Deputy Network Director overseeing the non-clinical operations of the Network. He also performed extended Interim Associate Director duties at the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System and Phoenix VA Health Care System. Mr. Hillberg has served on national Committees in both Strategic Planning and Systems Redesign programs.

Mr. Hillberg received his Bachelor’s Degree in Health Service Administration and Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota. He is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, and an active member of ACHE. He is also a 2012 graduate of the VHA Health Care Leadership Development Program. Mr. Hillberg is a Veteran of the United States Air Force, married, and has children.


Photo not available

Julie Kurtz | (602) 222-6444

Acting Associate Director


Portrait of B. Sylvia Vela

B. Sylvia Vela | (602) 222-6444

Acting Chief of Staff

Dr. Vela began her career in the VA in 1991 at the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she was hired as a staff endocrinologist and was Director of the Lipid Clinic. During her tenure there, she served as the Assistant Chief of Medicine from 1996-1999 before coming to the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in 1999. Shortly thereafter she was appointed Fellowship Director for the Phoenix Citywide Endocrinology Fellowship Program which she continued to direct until 2011. In 2003, she served as the acting Chief of the Endocrine section followed by a permanent appointment as Endocrine Section Chief in 2004. In 2007, she was appointed Associate Chief of Staff for Education where she was the Chief of the Education Service and handled all graduate medical education. From 2008-2013, she was also the Designated Learning Officer. In 2011, she was appointed Interim Chief of Staff and in 2012 she was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff.

Dr. Vela earned a B.A. in Zoology from University of Texas at Austin. She has an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine. She completed an Internal Medicine residency at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, followed by an Endocrinology Fellowship and a Clinical Research fellowship at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. She was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of New Mexico medical school where she received faculty awards for excellence in teaching. She currently holds the position of Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Dr. Vela is board certified in endocrinology and metabolism and also possesses Certification as a Clinical Densitometrist (CCD) from the International Society of Clinical Densitometry.


Portrait of Alyshia W Smith

Alyshia W Smith | 602-277-5551 x6572

Nurse Executive

Dr. Alyshia Smith joined the Phoenix VA Health Care System, Phoenix, Arizona on September 21, 2015 as the Associate Director for Patient Care Services (Nurse Executive). Her areas of responsibility include the oversight of the Nursing Service, Social Work Service, Sterile Processing Service, and the Chaplain Service.

Dr. Smith began her nursing career as a staff nurse on a cardiac surgery unit, in a large, complex private sector hospital in Washington, DC., with progressive leadership experience as nurse manager, clinical specialist and Senior Nursing Director. Her VA career began in 2010 as the Deputy Chief Nurse Executive (DCNE). As the DCNE for Outpatient Nursing Services, Dr. Smith was the senior nurse leader for primary and specialty care, and the Emergency Department. She later served as the Deputy Chief Nurse Executive for Inpatient Operations, with nursing responsibility for the inpatient acute care units, perioperative services, specialty clinics and the Emergency Department. Some of the programs and initiatives she lead included inpatient hospital flow, patient satisfaction, and implementation of the Stroke Program.

Dr. Smith earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Master of Science and Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Maryland. She has a clinical faculty appointment with the University of Maryland School of Nursing. She is board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a Nurse Executive, Advanced