Annual Prevention Summit honors community leaders dedicated to promoting health and wellness in Washington
For their work to promote mental health and wellness and prevent substance abuse, the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) recently honored several individuals and organizations at the 33rd annual Washington State Prevention Summit.
This year’s honorees:
- Kathy Deschner, Prevent Together: Battle Ground Prevention Alliance. With 20 years in the prevention field, Kathy's work includes the DREAM Team, a youth prevention club; hosting leadership development events; establishing and offering a teen center hangout space; and hosting prescription drug takeback events. Kathy offers support and information to assist the people in Battle Ground who are experiencing homelessness, and is continually drawing her community into prevention discussions.
- Liz Wilhelm, Seattle Children’s Hospital. Liz has been working on prevention-themed projects since she was a high school student. She has worked as a program coordinator for Seattle Children's Prevention Works in Seattle Coalition; taught prevention curriculum at the University of Washington School of Social Work and Seattle Central Community College; and served as project coordinator for the Issaquah Drug Free Community Coalition. Liz has devoted her career to ensuring families have opportunities to raise healthy children, and is devoted to mentoring rising prevention leaders.
- Cathy Kelley, Sunnyside United–Unidos. Cathy has worked in substance abuse prevention and treatment for her whole career. She served at MERIT Resource Services as senior counselor and prevention/intervention specialist. She oversaw prevention and intervention programs for 23 school districts through Educational Service District 105. Currently, Cathy oversees the Student Assistance Program in the Sunnyside School District and coordinates the Sunnyside United-Unidos Coalition. She mentors others to become leaders and imparts knowledge to be the change in the community.
- Chloe Anne Noel Connors, Unite! Washougal. As an 11-year-old, Chloe organized "Challenge for Change," an event that brought together providers and resources to help the community impacted by substance abuse. Chloe is a leader on the Unite! Washougal Coalition, inspiring youth to lead the coalition through the strategic planning framework, focusing on getting to the bottom of community issues and creating strategies to support positive, healthy choices.
- Washington Poison Center. The center has been serving Washington residents for more than 60 years with assistance on poisoning, drug overdose, or toxic exposure. The center also offers free, confidential emergency telephone services, toxicology consultations for hospital clinical staff, support for first responders, public and professional training, and community education outreach focused on prevention.
Also recognized this year were individuals who have greatly impacted the prevention system in Washington:
- Mary Segawa for her more than 20 years with Thurston TOGETHER and Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.
- Julia Havens for her more than 10 years with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery.
This year’s event is sponsored by HCA's Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery in partnership with the Washington State Department of Health, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, Molina Healthcare, and the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling. The Prevention Summit draws more than 600 young people, volunteers, and professionals from around the state.
The Prevention Summit provides an enriching and culturally competent training and networking opportunity for those working to prevent substance abuse, violence and other destructive behaviors. Prevention partners work to integrate community prevention efforts with primary health care.
“It is an opportunity to share strategies that have led to our success in significantly reducing underage drinking, smoking and the use of prescription opioids in Washington State,” says Michael Langer, acting assistant director for HCA’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery. “It is also time to reflect and strategize on the behavioral health challenges still impacting our state’s youth, families and communities."
The prevention community in Washington State has been meeting annually since the 1980s. Their first conference was held in Ellensburg, Washington on the Central Washington University campus. The conferences were first known as “family focus” meetings, and later as the annual “Building a Vision” conference. After a few name changes in the late 1990s, the annual conference was renamed in 1999 as the Washington State Prevention Summit.