2021 Legacy Award Recipient
Anne recently retired after a distinguished career with Whatcom County Health Department as Human Services Manager. One of Anne’s first efforts, once she officially began working with the health department in 2008, was to coordinate the behavioral health sales tax initiative. Her advocacy at the local, regional, and statewide level resulted in millions of dollars coming to the county over the years. Her ability to understand the landscape of complex systems and needs has ensured that resources are coordinated and maximized, making every dollar count.
Prior, she managed the state prison system for offenders with mental illness. There, Anne observed that those incarcerated with mental health issues tended to stay in jail longer due to prolonged behavioral issues that were not adequately treated. Once at the health department, Anne instituted and led system change that allowed those with mental health issues charged with a crime to be diverted to a special mental health court. She worked with the Bellingham Municipal and Whatcom County court systems to ensure that both the prosecutor and the public defender were part of the program.
Additionally, Anne managed the Ground Level Response and Coordinated Engagement (GRACE) program, which is a system to get those with needs directed to correct support and treatment organizations. The program was a massive success; thanks to GRACE, there was a 95% reduction in jail stays by those with identified mental health issues.
Using the National Health Prevention, Intervention, Treatment, Aftercare (PITA) Continuum System, Anne assembled a forum of community leaders and providers to ensure an interconnected continuum of care including housing and associated onsite services, behavioral health, substance abuse care, all seven school districts, and the local jail system.
Anne created a fund and infrastructure program that provides services including case manager support to indigent veterans. She worked with the housing department to obtain housing vouchers for vets.
Anne’s efforts changed county code and under her leadership, the health dept won an award for health department of the year.
One of Anne’s proudest and most recent accomplishments is the creation of the crisis stabilization center. It meets specific medical/health care needs and assists in receiving mental health support without the high costs of medical centers. The crisis stabilization center maintains a standalone 32 bed treatment unit that provides mental health stabilization and detox stabilization. Most importantly, the program creates a support plan including a discharge plan and avoids releasing those in need without additional support.
Anne is a true pillar of the community and is recognized and honored by her peers and contemporaries. More importantly, the gratitude of countless community members in need that have been helped by her efforts cannot be truly quantified. It is our honor to recognize Anne with the Legacy Award.
Thank you for your years of service. We wish you well into your retirement!
To watch the 24th Annual Ken Gass Community Building Awards in which Anne is recognized, click here.