January 2021 Meeting Preview: Resolve to Survive, Revive and Thrive

image of fireworks courtesy Pixabay.com

by Julie Hyde, Washington State Department of Health

It’s a new year, and most of us are looking forward to fresh beginnings and hope for better things after the unprecedented events of 2020.

For the first meeting of the new year, ICSEW will have presentations on building resiliency after a crisis and how to successfully manage stress.  We’ll also have a news update from the Washington State Women’s Commission.

You’re invited to join the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women on Zoom and Facebook Live from 8:30 am to noon on January 19, 2021.

Attendees should register via EventBrite. When you register on EventBrite, you will receive an email with Zoom instructions.

All regular ICSEW meetings are free and open to anyone, regardless of gender or employment status.  A 1-hour ICSEW executive board meeting immediately follows the regular meeting, which is also open for attendees to observe.

Descriptions of the presentations are below:

How to Survive, Revive and Thrive Professionally in a Crisis

Are you feeling overwhelmed, ineffective, worried or stressed about your professional life during this COVID-19 crisis? You are not alone! We are not only facing a health crisis but also an economic crisis that the world has never experienced before.

It’s OK not to know what to do when your very survival is threatened. However, once we can move ourselves and our loved ones into a safe environment and have a moment to breathe, there are some simple tools that will give you a professional advantage during this COVID-19 pandemic.

In this presentation, Ann Hiatt, will share with us some extraordinary insights about how to SURVIVE, REVIVE, AND THRIVE Professionally in the midst of crisis. 

Washington State Women’s Commission Update

The Washington State Women’s Commission improves the life of every woman by ensuring equitable opportunities and removing systemic barriers through engagement, advocacy, and public policy, while being inclusive of our diverse populations.

The Women’s Commission recently appointed Regina Malveaux as its new director. Malveaux will speak about very important topics including the impact of COVID-19 on women and internet access crisis for families working from home.

Building Resilience to Manage Stress

During these challenging times building resilience is key to managing stress. In this presentation you’ll learn how stress can impact you, ways resilience can help you weather life’s ups and downs, strategies to build and maintain resilience, and supports and resources available.

About the Presenters

Ann Hiatt

Ann Hiatt is a Silicon Valley veteran who received her initial business training during 15 years as the Executive Business Partner to Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) and Chief-of-Staff to Eric Schmidt (CEO and Executive Chairman at Google/Alphabet).

Her very first job was at 16 when she worked at a startup in Redmond, Washington called MusicWare – back when no one knew what a startup was. Growing up in Seattle during the original dotcom boom, surrounded by companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks, was a master class in innovation and it changed the course of her life.

Hiatt  now consults with executives and companies across the globe to reverse engineer their moonshot goals and get results by applying the lessons of innovation, ambition, growth at scale and forward-thinking leadership she learned at Amazon and Google. Aside from this, Hiatt is committed to democratizing the internet and bringing underrepresented voices to the forefront

Hiatt  is a sought-after international speaker, angel investor and sits on several boards in the UK. Ann has recently relocated from Silicon Valley to Europe and brings with her a unique perspective on what it takes to succeed in business today. Ann is also the author of Bet On Yourself which will be published by HarperCollins in 2021.

Regina Malveaux

Appointed to Governor Jay Inslee’s cabinet as Director of the Washington State Women’s Commission, Regina Malveaux has served as one of our nine inaugural Commissioners for the past two years. Malveaux  has over 20 years of experience as a tenacious advocate for women and children as a non-profit executive, victim’s services provider, community leader and policy advocate.

Malveaux served as CEO of the YWCA, Executive Director of the YWCA South Hampton Roads, Legal Advocate at the YWCA San Diego and founder of the Women’s Legal Center. Through her work with the YWCA, she established a national reputation as an aggressive advocate on issues related to gender-based violence and funding supports for families experiencing poverty.

Malveaux  holds an undergraduate degree in Social Policy from San Diego State University, a law degree from Howard University School of Law and a certificate in Non-profit Management from the Harvard University School of Business. During law school, she worked in both the White House and in Congress, for First Lady Hillary Clinton and the Honorable Maxine Waters respectively.

She has worked to train a new generation of advocates as an adjunct professor in Political, Women’s and African American studies at San Diego State University, the Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Old Dominion University, and Whitworth University.

Malveaux  has served on a number of boards aimed at advancing racial justice, economic empowerment and victim safety including the San Diego NAACP, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and the YWCA USA. Malveaux  is the mother of two adult children and currently resides in Olympia.

Kari Uhlman

Kari Uhlman is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counselor for Washington State and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She supports public employees and family members in identifying and resolving personal and workplace concerns and provides EAP presentations on work/life topics throughout Washington State.  Prior to becoming a counselor, Uhlman was in the field of training, leadership, and organizational development for 20 years in healthcare and higher education.

Uhlman has a special place in her heart for foster and adopted children as she previously specialized in working with these families. 

A First Responder for the Heart and Soul: DOC Employee Launches Non-profit Organization to Train Chaplains for Wilderness

Department of Corrections Employee Katjarina Hurt. Hurt is also the founder and executive director for Wilderness Chaplains.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published on The Washington State Department of Corrections’ website.

By Rachel Friederich

OLYMPIA, Washington—As an avid mountaineer and volunteer police chaplain, Katjarina Hurt knows firsthand the mental and emotional toll frequent exposure to trauma can have on first responders.

In urban settings, there is usually a chaplain, a staff psychologist or someone from the clergy to provide mental and emotional support following a critical incident. But for those who work in wilderness settings, this is often not the case.

That’s why Hurt, a Washington State Department of Corrections human resource consultant and former community corrections officer, started a non-profit organization dedicated to helping rescuers who work in remote environments, give and receive compassionate crisis care.

“Chaplains are like the first responders for the heart and soul,” Hurt says. “I like that I can come up to someone whose life has collapsed all around them, and by the time I leave, they’re starting to put the pieces back together.”

It’s the driving force behind Hurt’s organization, Wilderness Chaplains. The Puget Sound-based organization provides training, education and resources to chaplains so they can deploy to emergencies in remote areas. Hurt is the organizations founder and executive director.

The pandemic put a hold on an in-person wilderness chaplain academy. However, Hurt is arranging virtual trainings and building a network of interested chaplains who will eventually be able to deploy to incidents in the wilderness.

It Stemmed From Grief

Katjarina Hurt and Stephen Kornbluth

Wilderness Chaplains came about as an indirect result of the death of Hurt’s best friend, Stephen Kornbluth, following a 2018 climbing accident in Mount Rainier National Park.

Hurt, who was working as a curriculum designer for DOC at the time, had backed out of a scheduled climb with Kornbluth and other friends because she wasn’t feeling well the night before the trip.

When the accident happened, her friends had called local mountaineering authorities. One of the people they talked to didn’t know much about addressing critical incident stress or immediate resources to gather for the survivors. So that person called Hurt.

“They didn’t know it was my best friend who had died and when they called me, I collapsed on the floor sobbing,” Hurt said. “But I also knew I had to go into chaplain mode because I know what needs to be done. God help me, I wished there was someone else who knew what needed to be done, but I didn’t know where to find another one of me.”

In the days that followed, Hurt did things that chaplains do. She delivered the death notification to Kornbluth’s girlfriend, arranged support plans for the survivors, and brought in another chaplain to provide a critical incident stress debriefing. Critical incident stress briefings are specific techniques designed to help people deal with physical or psychological symptoms associated with trauma exposure. She found professionals who could listen to the survivors and let them express whatever emotions they’re feeling. Grief. Sadness. Anger. Depression. Anxiety. All to let them know that even after their world had been shattered, they weren’t alone. Hurt found resources for herself, too, knowing she would not be able to get through the loss of her best friend alone.

Word about Hurt’s actions and her unique background spread through the search and rescue community. She began getting calls from people all over the area wanting to know if she could train them and how to find chaplains who specialize in responding to non-urban incidents. It’s what inspired Hurt to start Wilderness Chaplains.

Exploring Public Safety Careers

Katjarina Hurt on Ski Patrol at the Summit on Snoqualmie

Providing solace to others overwhelmed by grief wasn’t always something Hurt considered as a career path. Hurt had at first set her sights at a career in advertising or journalism. In fact, she earned her first bachelor’s degree in communications from Gonzaga University. When she graduated in 2009, it was in the middle of the recession. Entry-level job openings were nearly non-existent, so Hurt had to figure out a Plan B.

When applying to jobs, Hurt relied on her experience as a first responder. Hurt was born in the Pacific Northwest, on Vashon Island, so she said it was only natural she and her family would work in the wilderness. Hurt’s mother was a ski patroller. Hurt regularly volunteered for the patrol in high school and college, providing first aid to injured skiers and helping search and rescue teams look for lost skiers.

The ski patrol experience came in handy when she got a job as a public safety officer at Seattle University. While she worked the graveyard shift at the university, she attended classes during the day. She studied theology, because “it seemed interesting.” But she didn’t yet know how studying religion and working in public safety would shape the rest of her career.

One fateful night in October 2009, Hurt overheard some chatter over the police scanner that would have a lasting impact on her. She heard screaming and an urgent distress call in which a police officer described what the community would soon learn was the shooting death of Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton.

Hurt and her co-workers began response protocols, in case the shooter tried to hide on campus. As she listened to the sirens and the babble over the scanner, Hurt noticed a drastic shift in tone in the officers’ voices.

“You could tell this burly cop was crying on the radio,” Hurt recalled. “I thought ‘Who goes out there and takes care of the cops? Who is there with the family of this guy who has just been killed?’ Who is the one out there making sure these guys are OK as they process the body of their brother?’ That’s when it started nagging at me that I don’t want to be the one out there looking for the bad guy. I want to go out and hug all of these officers because they sound so devastated. That’s when I learned what chaplains were and found my calling.”

Help is Not Always ‘Sunshine and Roses’

Hurt earned a master’s degree in Theology and Ministry from Seattle University in 2013 and also got a chaplaincy certificate from a police and fire chaplain’s academy in Burien. Around this time, Hurt married a soldier who got stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri.

After moving to Missouri, Hurt found a job as a probation officer for the Missouri Department of Corrections, where she managed a caseload of over 100 people including interstate compact cases and pre-sentencing investigations. As a pre-sentence investigator, Hurt’s interviewed victims and their family members and the perpetrator, then worked with attorneys to recommend sentencing ranges to the judge prior to someone’s sentencing.

Working as a probation officer made Hurt realize getting people the help they need often isn’t pleasant, and you often don’t know the final outcome of the service you provide.

For example, Hurt once had to go to court to ask a judge to revoke the community supervision of a drug-addicted mother. The constant drug use and frequent arrests made the mom a danger to society and her children’s safety. When Hurt met her, she was facing a multi-year prison sentence.

“She absconded, lied, and fought tooth and nail every step of the way,” Hurt recalled. “I remember the woman’s mother came up to me. She already had custody of the children. She said ‘It’s going to be really hard for them to not have a mother for the next several years, but I think you’re going to be saving her life, and these girls won’t wind up motherless.’”

The decision to revoke her supervision made Hurt want to cry, but “Making a difference is a tough pill to swallow sometimes, because we can’t always make a difference with sunshine and roses.”

Corrections employees rarely know if a client succeeds in turning their lives around once they are off department supervision and are no longer required to check in. Hurt says the uneasiness of not knowing how it all turns out is part of the job description. But she said one of the most cathartic ways to deal with those difficult feelings is to talk them out with someone you trust.

“It challenges us to learn to navigate the feelings of discomfort and lack of control,” Hurt said. “Sometimes getting the unclear thoughts out in words is the best thing we can do because they don’t spin around in your brain anymore.”

From Corrections to Teaching

Katjarina Hurt speaks at the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women’s annual Celebration meeting at the Washington State Legislative Building in Olympia.

In 2015, Hurt returned to Washington. The Department of Corrections hired her as a community corrections officer in Tacoma. She was once again managing interstate compact cases and homeless individuals.

After another year of working in the field, Hurt said the exposure to traumatic and dangerous situations began taking a toll on her overall wellness. She wasn’t eating or sleeping well, worked a lot of overtime, and avoided hanging out with her friends. A supervisor noticed the changes and suggested she apply for a curriculum designer position within the agency’s training and development unit. Curriculum designers create and teach annual in-service trainings for employees.

Hurt ended up getting the job. It invigorated her.

“I am really drawn to guiding people, helping them find their way,” Hurt said. “I fell in love with it and I think that’s where my big career shift happened.”

Taking a Break from Corrections

As Hurt flourished in her new role, she began to draw attention both in training and coaching new instructors. Several state agencies and professional groups asked her to be a guest trainer or speak at conferences and events.

When the accident happened in 2018, Hurt hit a wall. She could no longer be her best self at work.

“My life was just so upside down that I had to take a break,” Hurt said. “I took a lot of leave and when I came back, I just couldn’t focus on work anymore. I questioned everything about my life and my career. I made the really hard decision to resign. I needed to go home and grieve.”

When she took some time off, doors started opening.

Getting through the Grief

In 2018 and 2019, Hurt distanced herself from corrections. She began forming Wilderness Chaplains and got part-time jobs as a behavioral health technician at Ashley House and ACES, organizations that provide compassionate care for young adults and children or special health care needs.

Several of her clients were kids with autism. Helping them allowed Hurt to feel other things besides grief.

“I was pretty numb from the loss of Stephen and it was good for me to be in a position to experience strong emotions unrelated to his death,” Hurt said. “I knew I made a difference when the parents would tell me their kids looked forward to seeing me or had less behavior problems after a session.”

Hurt started seeing herself differently.

“The programs I designed for the kids aren’t meant to change them or ‘fix’ them because there’s nothing broken about them,” Hurt said. “I started looking at myself, my friends and family with this new lens of being more loving and forgiving of our faults and imperfections, instead focusing on what brings joy and fulfilment in life. It made me less of a perfectionist and more open-minded and appreciative of people’s differences.

With a renewed energy, Hurt set to work growing Wilderness Chaplains.

Redefining ‘Chaplain’

Katjarina Hurt takes a call during her shift as a volunteer police chaplain.

In early 2020, Hurt returned to DOC as a human resources consultant in its statewide records unit.

In her spare time, Hurt continued her chaplaincy work, volunteering for the Olympia Police Department and King County Sheriff’s Office. Being open-minded and an advocate of diversity is something Hurt says is key to being a good chaplain.

She’s on a mission to broaden the definition of a chaplain. Some agencies, like the DOC, have changed the term ‘chaplain’ to ‘institutional religious coordinator.’ Legislation enacted in 2019 mandated that change in language, to be inclusive to people of all faiths.

Most lexicons historically defined a chaplain as someone who is Christian. Hurt noted when she first decided to serve as a police chaplain, a lot of the ones she met were retired, Caucasian, male ministers. Hurt is quick to point out she is not a religious coordinator; She would rather re-define chaplains to be more inclusive for those who aren’t Christian, or who don’t follow a religion at all. In fact, Hurt said she’s gotten into heated debates with other chaplains who seem to be too ‘Christian-focused.’

“A chaplain doesn’t preach, a chaplain listens,” Hurt said. “I’m trying to create a culture shift that if a chaplain holds up a Bible and starts preaching, everyone knows they’re not being a chaplain. A chaplain should serve everyone and should represent what is in the best interest of the other person’s heart, mind, body, and soul. I firmly believe that anyone, even agnostics and atheists can do that.”

It’s OK to Ask for Help

One of the most important lessons Hurt has learned from her journey through grief and working alongside those in law enforcement professions is that post-traumatic stress injuries are very real.

The Journal of Emergency Medical Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (pdf) have scores of peer-reviewed literature showing people who work in these professions experience depression and suicide rates that are higher than those of the general public. And a lot of times, people who work in these fields might be reluctant to seek help because of a perceived stigma of being treated differently or not being trusted to return to work after taking some time off to address those issues.

Hurt advises first responders start with confidential ways to seek help like peer support or a staff psychologist. If they don’t feel comfortable with those options, then they should find something more removed from the workplace, such as the state’s Employee Assistance Program or a first responder crisis line.

“It’s truly a matter of life and death,” Hurt said, noting that she has openly sought counseling herself and it has been tremendously beneficial. “You wouldn’t let a stab wound continue to drip blood until it finally kills you. Don’t let your stress injuries do that to you. They will bleed you dry if you do not accept what is happening and treat the injury.”

Helping first responders treating their stress injuries is one of the things Hurt wants Wilderness Chaplains to do because it’s where her heart is.

“I feel the most fulfilled when I can come into someone’s life and help them realize their own strengths, make a plan and start to move forward, and then I can back away and I know that they’re doing what they need to do now,” Hurt said. “That keeps me doing what I do. I keep answering the phone. I might feel exhausted some days, but I know I was meant to do this. When you need me to be there, I’ll be like, ‘Absolutely! I may need coffee, but I’m on my way!’”

Wilderness Chaplains is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that is registered with the Secretary of State’s Combined Fund Drive charities. To learn more, visit Wilderness Chaplains or the Washington State Combined Fund Drive.

ICSEW Drive Supports Victims of Domestic Violence, Local Businesses Amid Pandemic


ICSEW logo

Updated on December 9, 2020

The Interagency Committee of State Employed Women (ICSEW) is sponsoring a gift card and supplies drive for organizations that provide services and resources to women and individuals who are victims of domestic violence. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, police departments and civic groups are reporting a spike in domestic violence cases. Mandated stay-at-home orders have put victims in close proximity to their abusers.

“This is an opportunity to help empower Washingtonians who are taking the difficult steps to protect the wellbeing of themselves and their families. These are strong, brave individuals, and to be a part of bettering their lives falls in line with so many of ICSEW’s values,” said ICSEW Public Outreach Co-chair, Jasmine Pippin-Timco.   

The drive started Oct. 1, the beginning of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The drive will run until April 30, 2021, with a possible extension through summer if needs remain dire. Recipients of the gift cards so far are the following organizations:

“This is a great opportunity to make a difference twice with one gesture as many local businesses are struggling to stay afloat through this pandemic,” said ICSEW Public Outreach Co-chair, Debra Lefing. “Donating a gift card helps a domestic violence survivor obtain meals or supplies and gives a much-needed boost to a business owner.”

How to Participate

If you are an individual who would like to donate a gift card, simply reach out to a local business or restaurant near you to purchase the card and mail to the desired organization below. Any business that carries grocery items, diapers & wipes, personal hygiene items or cleaning supplies would be useful. The organizations also need gift cards for restaurants, takeout, and fast food locations for food. During the holiday season any gift card can be donated as the families receive them as a Christmas gift, in some cases these are the only gifts children receive.

If you are an immune compromised individual or do not feel comfortable purchasing a gift card in-person, the ICSEW’s Annual Charity Drive page will have an updated list of businesses that offer no-contact purchase options starting December 7. If you are a business that would like to be on this list, please see the section below for businesses for how to participate. ICSEW is coordinating with businesses to arrange delivery of gift cards to specific organizations..

For Individuals: To ensure safe, no-contact delivery, ICSEW is encouraging the public to mail gift cards to charitable organizations for local businesses that carry items in need.

Western Washington:

Eastern Washington

  • New Hope (Grand Coulee, Moses Lake, Mattawa, Othello, Quincy, Royal City) C/O: Tina Steinmetz 311 W 3rd Ave, Moses Lake, WA, 98837
  • YWCA Spokane (Spokane County) C/O: Jennifer Haynes-Harter 930 N Monroe St, Spokane, WA 99201
  • YWCA Yakima (Yakima County) C/O: Miriam Saavedra 818 W Yakima Ave, Yakima, WA 98902

If you are a local business and would like to participate in the gift card and product drive or be added to our list for contact free purchases please contact the ICSEW’s Public Outreach Subcommittee Co-Chairs. For western Washington businesses please contact jasmine.pippin-timco@lcb.wa.gov. For eastern Washington businesses, please contact debra.lefing@atg.wa.gov.  

For more information about the gift card drive, please visit the ICSEW’s Annual Charity Drive webpage, https://icsew.wa.gov/events/charity-drive/

The ICSEW’s Public Outreach Subcommittee has a vested interest in supporting community organizations that share the ICSEW values of Wellness, Advocacy, Leadership, Integrity, Fostering growth and Empowerment.

About the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women:

The Interagency Committee of State Employed Women, ICSEW is made up of governor-appointed state-employees from various agencies. The ICSEW seeks to better the lives of state employees through advocacy, outreach, opportunity, and by advising the Governor and agencies on policies that affect state-employed women.

Mission: To better the lives of state employees by advising the Governor and agencies on policies that affect state-employed women.

Vision: Enriching lives through advocacy, outreach, and opportunity.

For more information about the ICSEW, visit, https://icsew.wa.gov.

Commentary: Taking Care of Yourself When Your Job Involves Taking Care of Others

Editor’s Note: This commentary originally appeared in the December 2020 Frontline Supervisor Newsletter published by the Washington State Employee Assistance Program. Cindy Guertin-Anderson, assistant director for workforce support and development shares she personal experience about how easy it can be to neglect taking care of yourself during emergencies like this pandemic.

Message from Cindy Guertin-Anderson, Asst. Director, Workforce Support and Development

Hello leaders! Over the last pandemic-burdened months, the EAP has provided you with encouragement and advice on how to take care of the employees you serve. Certainly, that’s critical. But here’s the other critical thing that you might be ignoring as outside pressures mount: Are YOU okay? When the EAP recently sent out an invitation for post-election support, a friend at another agency forwarded the email to me with the simple question: “But who supports the supporters? Hope you are hanging in there!” I answered jokingly to send an emergency supply of chocolate…but it’s a serious question, and I’m passing along that helpful question to you: Who or what is sustaining you? Are you, managers and HR professionals in your role as supporters, getting your own needs met?

At a recent state HR managers’ meeting, a participant raised the topic of compassion fatigue. And a litany of responses came into the chat—offers reaching out to chat 1:1, talk of creating a support group to process and debrief together with folks who understand what it’s like to be in their positions, desire for a space to refuel and connect together on their humanity. I’ve heard several people say that during team check-ins everyone else says they are doing just fine, “so I say I’m fine too…even though I’m not.” I’m in meetings with leaders who seem to be holding it all together perfectly well, but then I see a glimpse of their exhaustion, their despair. I see many of you—managers, leaders, human resource professionals—both going beyond the call of duty to lead in an ongoing crisis, but also beleaguered. Resilient yes, yet in some moments exhausted and with little or nothing left to give. I believe both can be true at the same time.

I received a letter from my doctor’s office reminding me that I was past due for my annual checkup. And it occurred to me that somehow amidst a pandemic that’s forcing us not to be out socializing, I had also neglected to go to the dentist (despite a minor toothache), neglected to get my eyes checked (despite the fact that I can no longer make out subtitles on my TV screen), and even neglected to keep up with my yoga practice at home (despite that year I spent in yoga teacher training). While I was busy creating wellness messages for the state workforce and trying to lead from a place of compassion, I wasn’t walking the talk. And so a few weeks later I found myself sitting in my doctor’s office for a wellness check. Her simple question, “How’s it going?” brought an unexpected cascade of tears. In other spaces I’ve been responding to that question with my standard, “Pretty well, all things considered,” but somehow in that moment I let my defenses down and I crumpled. I was not okay. I felt lonely and weary. She listened with kindness, told me what I was feeling was normal and expected, and recommended that I do something about it. What she recommended were obvious things, the things I preach but haven’t practiced. I found a counselor. I reached out to a colleague to talk. I made those neglected appointments.

My hunch is that many of you reading this are in a similar situation. You may be working overtime making sure your agency mission is achieved, while neglecting even the most basic of self-care. It’s not that you don’t know what you need to do to care for yourself; it’s just that it can feel overwhelming or exhausting to muster the energy to do it. Laura van Dernoot Lipsky in her 2018 book The Age of Overwhelm, says “Let us aspire to not allow overwhelm in the midst of suffering to leave us feeling powerless. There is always something we can do….It is never too late to start a new practice, merging the reality of insight about who you are—with an understanding of all you’ve got going on—with awareness of the choices you can make to help you sustain for the long haul. Do something. Every day.”

If you resonate with some of what I’ve shared so far, here’s a nudge for a few concrete actions you can take to combat compassion fatigue (either spend 15 minutes now, or find a 15 minute timeslot on your calendar this week and make an appointment to do the following):

  1. Think of a peer or colleague who might be in a similar hard spot right now, maybe someone at a different agency, and send them an email asking how they are managing these days. Invite them to meet for a virtual coffee break to chat. The person you reach out to probably needs connection just as much as you do.
  2. Grab a scrap of paper and jot down 3 things you did well in the past week, no matter how trivial. Read it aloud. Notice what happens to your mind and body when you acknowledge successes.
  3. Send a note of gratitude to someone—it can be the briefest of emails or a Skype chat—just to say “I was thinking of you and wanted to tell you that I’m glad you are in my life” or “Thanks for all you do – I feel lucky to work with you.”

And if no one has said it to you recently, I’ll end with this. Thank you for all you have done to support employees in the past 9 months. You are doing a great job. You need and deserve support too. What choice will you make today to sustain for the long haul?

PS: If you missed the October State HR Lunch and Learn on Workplace Resilience featuring Dr. Kira Mauseth from the WA DOH Behavioral Health Strike Team, give it listen. It’s well worth the hour.

Resource: Webinar: How to Build Resilience When Your Job Involves Helping Others in Crisis The EAP has an upcoming webinar from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday Dec. 7. You can register here or visit the EAP website for on-demand recordings of this webinar topic.

ICSEW is Recruiting a New Executive Chair

ICSEW logo

The ICSEW is recruiting for a new executive chair.

As executive chair of the ICSEW, you will have the opportunity to use your leadership skills to guide a dynamic committee made up of diverse state employees.

Responsibilities include presiding over general membership and executive board meetings, communicate recommendations to the governor, appoint positions to the ICSEW executive board, serve a designated spokesperson for ICSEW in public forums and provide other duties as needed.

The ICSEW’s mission is to better the lives of state employees by advising the governor and agencies on polices that affect state-employed women. Its vision is enriching lives through advocacy, outreach and opportunity. The major focus of the ICSEW to identify and advocate issues faced by state-employed women. As chair, you will be supporting the work of eight subcommittees that work on projects related to the ICSEW values of wellbeing, advocacy, leadership, integrity, fostering growth and empowerment.

How to Apply

The position of ICSEW executive chair is appointed by the governor. The term will begin in January of 2021. The executive chair serves at the pleasure of the governor, and does not have a term limit.

To apply for the executive chair position, you must complete the online application.  Applications are due by close of business Dec. 21.

People of all backgrounds and levels of experience are encouraged to apply. Support and training will be provided.

Applicants must be ICSEW representatives or alternate representatives in good standing. 

Difficult Conversations

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How to Respectfully Decline Invitations to Group Gatherings

This week Gov. Jay Inslee announced new month-long lockdown restrictions due to a rapid uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Health officials are recommending residents celebrate Thanksgiving with immediate household members only. But how do you have the difficult conversation when you have to decline invitations for get-togethers? The Washington State Department of Health offers some tips.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared on the DOH’s Medium blog.

Difficult conversations. This week, we released the latest… | by Washington State Department of Health | Public Health Connection | Nov, 2020 | Medium

This week, we released the latest statewide situation report (PDF) on COVID-19 transmission. It shows that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across Washington. Both the number of people who get COVID-19 and the number of people who need to be hospitalized for it have increased across the state.

Increasing spread of COVID-19 makes planning for the holidays difficult. No one wants to risk getting people they love sick. If you will be seeing extended family members or friends in person for Thanksgiving, make it safer by staying home now. For the next two weeks until Thanksgiving, essentially quarantine yourself and leave your house only for the most essential reasons. And ask your family to do the same to protect you.

Difficult conversations. This week, we released the latest… | by Washington State Department of Health | Public Health Connection | Nov, 2020 | Medium

Even with these precautions, an indoor, in-person gathering is risky. It’s completely reasonable — and safer — to decide to celebrate Thanksgiving with just your immediate household this year. Making that decision is hard, and it can be even harder to tell your family what you have decided!

But during COVID-19, saying “no” to some events can be an act of caring, especially if our loved ones are at high risk of getting very sick.

So, how can you say “no” to an event or get-together in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings? Try these tips:

Be clear

Saying no effectively starts with just that — saying no. A simple, direct “no” is the best way to make yourself understood and closes the door for negotiations.

Offer alternatives

Ask if there is another way to connect with the person who invites you to a gathering. Acknowledge you really want to see them but want to keep everyone safe. “I wish we could get together, but I don’t want to do anything to risk you or my family/myself getting sick.” Maybe start planning an opportunity to see each other when the weather lets us be outside.

Be honest

Excuses are tempting, but they can easily backfire when your convenient excuse is met with an equally convenient solution. For example, telling someone you can’t go to an event because you don’t have anyone to watch your children leaves the door open for them to invite your kids as well.

Don’t feel pressured to keep the conversation going

Your “no” is enough. If you get pushed for more reasons or are accused of being unkind or selfish, you aren’t obligated to reply. It’s ok to say something like “I’m sorry you’re upset, but this is my decision and I need you to respect it” — and leave it at that.

For more questions, answers and tips on how to share celebrations safely in the coming months, check out our Safer Gatherings website.

Practice compassion

One of the best gifts you can give your family and friends during the coming months is to not make them feel guilty about saying “no” to an invitation. We all need to make the best decisions we can for ourselves and for our families this year. Accepting those decisions with a simple “I understand — hope we can do it next year!” makes it easier on everyone.

More information

Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday — Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday — Sunday. Language assistance is available.

Please note that this call center cannot access COVID-19 testing results. For testing inquiries or results, please contact your health care provider.

News from the Latino Leadership Network

latino leadership network logo

Editor’s note: The information contained here was originally provided by the Latino Leadership Network’s Nov. 10 update.

Latinos Broke Ballot Box Expectations

Political pundits and others wondered how Latinos could have possibly voted for Trump. National Public Radio’s Audie Cornish spoke with Julio Ricardo Varela, of the In the Thick podcast, about Latino voter turnout this year in which Varela shared insightful observations about Latino voters.
Listen or read the news report  

Professional Development: Join frank dialogue about race and racial disparities

November 18 | 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Cost: $59 | Details & registration

The People’s Gathering, a dialogue-based event series focusing in-depth on the topic of race, will include a keynote speech from Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

The People’s Gathering is a professional and personal development learning experience that provides a supportive space for participants to engage in frank and open dialogue about race and racial disparities systemically present in work, school, and everyday life. Speakers and facilitators invited to participate include local and national leaders from indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, and Latino communities. 

This fall’s virtual convening is in anticipation of the impact of the upcoming U.S. presidential election, COVID-19, and recognizing that this will be an important time to be organized in conversation as a community. Regardless of the election outcome, this is a supportive space to talk, listen, and heal” said Melannie Denise Cunningham, director of multicultural outreach and engagement, and producer for the event for Pacific Lutheran University.

First time: Seattle TED Talks online and free

Event promotphotoSaturday, Nov. 21 | 9 a.m.
Details & registration TEDxSeattle 2020: Other Sides will feature thought-provoking new ideas from a diverse array of speakers and visionaries, including neuroscientists, cultural experts, architects and more as they challenge you to rethink the other side. Don’t expect the same Zoom panels you’re used to from conferences in 2020, this event will present you with angles you haven’t seen and perspectives you haven’t heard.

Take time to recognize the first Americans

Thursday, Nov. 19 | 3-4 p.m.
Link to join the meeting

In recognition of Indigenous Heritage Month, join a live WebEx presentation that will feature three compelling speakers who will share their lived experiences:

  • Terri Butler – “Journey to Me”
  • Janet Gone – “My Story”
  • K’Ehleyr McNulty – “We Have Always Been Here”

The event will also feature an educational segment of history and current issues about missing and murdered indigenous women and the history of the Skokomish Tribe. 

Note: There is no preregistration. The link above allows you to join the event once it begins. 

How to snuff that work-from-home burnout

stock photoMonday, Dec. 14 | 1-3 p.m.
Cost: $49 | Details & registration Are you feeling burnout at work, at home, or both? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, stress levels in American workers are at an all-time high. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Sponsored by the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women (ICSEW) this workshop will explore burnout– what causes it, how to prevent it, and how to overcome it. You will leave with a personalized toolkit to prevent and overcome burnout and help others do the same. Due to limited capacity, it is recommended you register early to ensure you get to attend.

Disability Inclusion Network Meeting is Nov. 12

Disability Inclusion Network logo

Senior Microsoft Attorney, Representatives from the Rainbow Alliance and Inclusion Network Will Speak

The Disability Inclusion Network (DIN) is inviting you to attend its monthly membership meeting on Thursday, November 12th, from 9:00-12:00 pm.

November’s meeting we will have guest speakers Jasper Marino and Lou Thompson from the Rainbow Alliance and Inclusion Network (RAIN). They will discuss the work that RAIN has been doing around the use of gender pronouns. Stuart Pixley from Microsoft will speak about Microsoft’s disability Employee Resource Group (ERG).

About Stuart Pixley: Stuart Pixley has been a senior attorney at Microsoft for nearly 12 years where he currently supports the Azure Quantum Computing and Silicon Solutions teams.  Prior to joining Microsoft, he worked for over 10 years for several large law firms in New York City and the Silicon Valley handling intellectual property and technology transactions. Pixley has also been deeply involved in disability diversity in the legal field. He is a former leader and current member of the Washington Attorneys with Disabilities Association, is the former president and founding board member of the National Association of Attorneys with Disabilities, is a former commissioner of the ABA Commission on Disability Rights, has served on the Committee for Diversity for the Washington State Bar Association and is an active member of the Microsoft Legal Affairs’ Disability Diversity Team which he helped inaugurate in 2012.

Born with cerebral palsy, he has significant hearing and vision loss and travels by electric wheelchair.  He believes he owes his success in navigating challenges as a professional to foundational experiences growing up and a belief that diversity and disability community must be leveraged to achieve disability inclusion.

This meeting is 100% Virtual and American Sign Language Interrupters (ASL) and CART (Communication Access Real-time Translation) will be provided. You can attend this meeting by clicking on the  ZOOM link or by calling 253-215-8782 Meeting ID: 823 2880 4191 and Password: 966139

If you have any questions about the meeting you can email DIN@OFM.WA.GOV

 Attached Documents 

Washington State’s Disability Inclusion Network (DIN) business resource group exists to create an environment where individuals with disabilities have equitable access to opportunities and resources through recruitment, hiring, training, development, retention, and promotion so that individuals with disability can fully participate in all aspects of the workplace.

To learn more about DIN please visit our website Disability Inclusion Network or email us at din@ofm.wa.gov Come Like us on Facebook Washington State Disability Network or follow us on LinkedIn Disability Inclusion Network.

Upcoming Training: Prevent and Overcome Burnout

The ICSEW is sponsoring a training with Amy Leneker.

Prevent & Overcome Burnout

December 14, 2020

1:00 – 3:00 pm via Zoom

Facilitated by Amy Leneker

Cost: $49

Click here for more info and to register

About the workshop:

Prevent and Overcome Burnout (sponsored by ICSEW) Tickets, Mon, Dec 14, 2020 at 1:00 PM | Eventbrite

Are you feeling burnout at work, at home, or both? If so, you’re not alone! According to the Center for Disease Control, stress levels in American workers are at an all-time high. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

We will explore burnout– what causes it, how to prevent it, and how to overcome it. You will leave with a personalized toolkit to prevent and overcome burnout, and help others do the same.

Course Objectives

Through a pre-assessment, facilitated workshops, and group coaching, participants will learn to prevent and overcome burnout.Participants will learn to:

1. Assess your current energy and burnout level.

2. Understand how to prevent burnout in the workplace.

3. Build personal and organizational resilience – you will design an individualized resilience plan to overcome burnout.

Intended Audience

This class is intended for anyone who is interested in learning how to prevent and overcome burnout and to help others do the same. This class is also great for supervisors, managers and HR professionals who help others in the workplace.


– Two hour faciliated workshop

– Assessment of energy level and burnout level

– Template to build burnout resilience plan

– Access to resources

About the Facilitator

Amy Leneker is on a mission to inspire you to lead a life you love™. She is a Leadership Consultant and a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator. Amy was born and raised in the Midwest where she learned to work hard, tell the truth and be kind. Although Amy left Ohio long ago, those Midwestern values are still very much a part of who she is and how she works. With over two decades of experience in leadership development, Amy has trained thousands of leaders and practitioners from all over the world. She and her husband have two wonderful kiddos and three wacky dogs and make their home in the Pacific Northwest.

Post-Election Support Resource Guide

drawing of US capitol
Image from Pixabay.com

This week, the Washington State Employee Assistance program is offering a special series of live post-election support sessions. One per day on weekdays starting the day after Election Day through Monday, November 9. The EAP is also offering several webinars on keeping up on your mental health and wellbeing. Below are the details from the director of the Employee Assistance Program:

A message from Darrow Brown, Director of the Employee Assistance Program:

In the midst of a pandemic, civil unrest, racial discord and household financial insecurity, we have now arrived at Election Day 2020 – a day that has certainly heightened the stress, worry and anxiety for many.  To support you and your employees, the Washington State Employee Assistance Program offers the attached resource guide.  Note, the list is not an exhaustive one, but should help to provide you and your employees support and a way forward during the coming days.  Please be sure to send the guide to your employees.

Post Election Support Sessions

In the guide, you’ll see that the EAP is offering live, supportive post-election sessions starting Wednesday 11/4.  At present, there will be one session per day on Wednesday 11/4, Thursday 11/5, Friday 11/6 and Monday 11/9.  We will assess the schedule and frequency, based on requests and feedback in the coming days.  To see a list of dates and times and to register, you and your employees can visit our Webinars page.  We here at the EAP understand the potentially precarious and emotionally-charged nature of these sessions.  The intention is to provide a guided, facilitated and supportive response that attends to employees’ emotional and behavioral needs. The underlying EAP approach is to “do no harm”, including not inviting and/or allowing discussions of a political nature.

Thank you for the continued support of The Washington State Employee Assistance Program and for your dedication to employee wellness.