Message from the Executive Director
It has been an amazing journey and an honor to serve as the Executive Director of the Washington School-Based Health Alliance (WA SBHA) over the past six years. With so much gratitude for all I’ve learned from you and with you, proud of our collective accomplishments, and excited about the future of WA SBHA and school-based health care in Washington, I have decided it is time for me to make space and pass the baton to new leadership. I will be stepping away from this role by April 2024, to take a breath and explore new ventures.
Since early 2018, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with so many wonderful people committed to health and educational equity for students across the state. This includes youth, their parents/guardians, those serving youth in school-based health centers (SBHCs) and schools, local public health departments and healthcare agencies, healthcare and education associations, state agencies, our national School-Based Health Alliance and other state affiliates across the country, and all those working to advance policy and funding for school-based health care at the local, state, and federal levels.
More than 30 new SBHC sites have opened across Washington in the past six years, with more to begin services this school year, increasing the total to 70+ across Washington. A number of other communities have piloted telehealth, mobile, and hybrid models of school-based health care, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m so grateful for what WA SBHA has been able to accomplish, in partnership with you, in support of the growing school-based health field in our state:
- Capacity-building, stakeholder engagement, and communications. To strengthen and support school-based health care in Washington, since 2018 we’ve hosted two state conferences, more than 30 individual webinar trainings, and multiple communities of practice. We worked with SBHC partners at the regional, state, and national level to develop guidance for our Washington SBHCs and school partners during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. We provided direct technical assistance and support to dozens of SBHCs and communities seeking to address the needs of students; responded to hundreds of inquiries and requests for resources; visited SBHC sites across the state; and connected communities doing this work through introductions, online forums, and networking events. We raised awareness about SBHCs among communities, partners, legislators, and funders. We developed and shared resources with the field through our website and communications.
- Policy & advocacy. To advance state policy and funding for SBHCs, we co-convened a SBHC work group in 2020 with state Representative Monica Stonier, which led to passage in 2021 of SHB 1225 (RCW 43.70.825), a state SBHC Program at the Department of Health, and state SBHC grant funding—with supplemental funding secured over the past two years. We advocated at the federal level with you, the national School-Based Health Alliance, and other state affiliates for historic and growing federal SBHC funding. More than 20 communities across Washington have received grants from these new state and federal grant sources to plan, start up, operate and/or expand SBHCs. Other local public funding and new private funding has been invested in SBHCs in Washington over the past several years.
- WA SBHA growth. To strengthen our WA SBHA leadership and team, we have grown our staff and Board of Directors to expand capacity and expertise, and more equitably represent those we serve; contracted with a highly effective state lobbying team; leveraged local, state and national partnerships to strengthen our work in Washington; and grown and diversified our organizational funding. We have deepened our internal learning and taken steps to center racial equity in all we do, knowing this work is key to our mission, ongoing, and never done.
Thank you all for your collaboration and support in this work these past six years. With a refreshed strategic plan for 2024-2026, WA SBHA is ready to continue and expand our work to advance the school-based health field in Washington to support youth, families, and schools.
The WA SBHA Board of Directors, staff, and I will be working closely together and with our Executive Search consultant Makeba Greene (she/her) in the coming months to ensure strong leadership for WA SBHA in the years to come and a smooth transition. We will be posting the position description for the new Executive Director soon. In the meantime, if you have questions about or interest in this opportunity, please feel free to reach out to Makeba directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandy Lennon (she/her)
Message from the Board of Directors
On behalf of the Board of Directors, with gratitude and support, we announce today that Sandy Lennon will be transitioning from her role as the Washington School-Based Health Alliance (WA SBHA) Executive Director by April 2024. After six years and with significant accomplishments, Sandy will be handing the reins to our next ED and exploring her next chapter.
The WA SBHA was formed in 2010 and operated solely by our volunteer Board until we hired Sandy in 2018 as our first staff member and Executive Director. From the very beginning, Sandy’s leadership has been a catalyst for significant growth of school-based health centers in Washington, and for building capacity, partnerships, and sustainable funding for this work. We believe her commitment to and impact in elevating school-based health has been felt meaningfully across the state. Among notable accomplishments, Sandy’s advocacy and partnering resulted in the development of new state policy and the passage of a bill that provided for the first-ever state SBHC Program providing funding for school-based health centers. These efforts, among others, along with our recently refreshed and updated strategic plan, position the organization to continue this work and to advance the school-based health field in our state.
The Board is grateful for Sandy’s thoughtful and intentional planning of her transition. Over the next several months, the Board will be conducting a thorough search to find WA SBHA’s next Executive Director. We will be sharing the job announcement soon and ask for the support of our partners in identifying candidates who will continue our momentum and trajectory of this work across Washington state. The Board will prioritize finding a dynamic leader with a commitment and passion for our mission: to advance and advocate for school-based health care, working with communities and partners to achieve equity in health and educational opportunity for children and youth statewide.
Sara Rigel (she/her)
President, WA SBHA Board of Directors