Political spotlight…

Frances Axtell sitting at an office desk

In 1939, Julia Butler Hanson began serving the State of Washington as a legislator for the 18th district. She served on the Education Committee and the Roads and Bridges Committee. She championed school lunch programs, better teacher contract laws and retirement systems, promoted community colleges, and helped build I-5 and the state ferry system. While serving on the Elections and Privileges Committee she supported legislation to ensure equal participation by women on county and state party committees. In 1955, she narrowly lost the Speakership of the House and she was the first woman to serve on the House Appropriations Committee in 1967. She supported funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities. In 1989, Julia posthumously received the Washington State Medal or Merit and was called “one of the greats. There’s no question about it. She was the epitome of dedication, toughness, and effectiveness in both the Legislature and Congress.”

February is American Heart Month

hearthealthHeart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. The American Heart Association has developed “Life’s Simple 7,” seven-steps to reduce risk for heart disease and stroke.

  1. Manage Blood Pressure
    High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.
  2. Control Cholesterol
    High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages.
  3. Reduce Blood Sugar
    Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
  4. Get Active
    Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life.
  5. Eat Better
    A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life!
  6. Lose Weight
    When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. You give yourself the gift of active living, you lower your blood pressure and you help yourself feel better, too.
  7. Stop Smoking
    Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.

To learn more visit: http://www.heart.org
SOURCE: http://www.heart.org




Making state agencies work for LGBTQ employees and customers

Gov. Jay Inslee shaking hands with Franklin Plaistowe, assistant director for State Human Resource at the LGBTQ Employee Resource Group in Tumwater, Wash., Jan. 31, 2017
(Official Governor’s Office Photo)

“As long as I am governor, Washington will remain a place where no one can be discriminated against because of who they love, the color of their skin, their country of origin or how they worship.”

With those words, Gov. Jay Inslee kicked off the state’s newly-formed LGBTQ Employee Resource Group Tuesday before more than 300 state employees at the state Labor & Industries office in Tumwater.

The resource group is tasked with implementing the governor’s Safe WA directive issued last year. The initiative’s purpose is to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace for state workers and ensure that Washingtonians in the LGBTQ community can look to public-facing state offices for safe and secure spaces.

“We want to promote diversity and inclusion. Not only is it the right thing to do, we will create better workplaces and provide better services to our customers,” said Dr. John Wiesman, secretary of the Department of Health and the resource group’s executive sponsor. “This kickoff is the start of bringing LGBTQ employees and allies to the table. That is part of our mission as public servants and our responsibility as employers.”

The resource group is tasked with three goals:
•Advise and develop strategies to create safe, diverse and inclusive workplaces for LGBTQ employees and customers.
•Identify best practices, working with the Office of Financial Management’s State Human Resources Division to find innovative work underway to benefit LGBTQ employees and customers statewide and nationally.
•Develop a statewide safe place program modeled on those operated by the Olympia and Seattle police departments that offer safe, secure environments to request help and be connected to support services.

While the directive now applies to all state agencies that report to the governor, the resource group hopes to expand its efforts to other separately elected offices such as the offices of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Attorney General and others.

“We’ve not always had a place at the table for all the communities we serve,” said Franklin Plaistowe, assistant director for State Human Resources. “State government needs to be a place where as an employer we show a commitment to all our employees and demonstrate that they are respected, valued and understood.”

With Wiesman as executive sponsor, the resource group also includes another member of the governor’s cabinet, Lourdes (Alfie) Alvarado-Ramos, director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

“This is one of the first state governments to have a LGBTQ resource group for state employees,” Alvarado-Ramos said. “We are working to create a state government of openness, learning and opportunity.”

The resource group is co-chaired by Ellis Israel, a recruitment supervisor with the Department of Licensing, and Justin Taylor, a communications consultant with the Department of Labor and Industries.

When asked about the motivation to get involved in the resource group, Ellis was frank. “As a transgender person, I have not always been able to bring my authentic self to work. It greatly impacted my productivity, my engagement, my work relationships and my service to the public,” they said (“they” being Ellis’s preferred pronoun). “There is currently no enterprise-wide infrastructure in place to help LGBTQ employees. We don’t know how many of us work for the state or what our needs are. This resource group is open to everyone, including allies.”

Participation in the group is voluntary. Employees must have supervisor approval, be able to commit two to three hours a month. Because the group’s efforts are workplace related, participants do not have to take personal or vacation leave. State agencies will support the work and implement inclusion plans and other resources developed by the resource group.

Resource group co-chair Justin Taylor was invigorated by the initial interest and the number of people who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “This is a great start. I am excited about making structural change happen across the state,” he said. “This employee-driven program will involve as many voices as possible. We want to get this right and we want to start positively impacting lives.”

The resource group will meet every month and plans to provide a report to the governor in June with recommendations and updates on progress.

“The governor has shown strong and consistent commitment to this community, from the diversity of leadership that he has brought to his cabinet, where he ensures that cabinet members reflect all of Washington state, to this directive that prioritizes employee-driven efforts to support our LGBTQ employees and customers,” Wiesman said. “It makes a tremendous difference for all people to see themselves reflected in leadership and know that they are a priority.”



Glaucoma: 5 Things You Should Know


January 30, 2017 • By Jullia A. Rosdahl, Practicing Glaucoma Specialist, National Eye Health Education Program Glaucoma Subcommittee and Duke University Department of Ophthalmology

I don’t know about you, but at the start of each new year, I resolve to eat healthier, exercise more, and sleep in when I can! Some years I follow through with my promises, and some years I fall short. My days can be very hectic, and sometimes it’s hard to find time to take care of myself.

But, as an ophthalmologist, I always make sure to keep eye health at the top of my list. While it’s my profession, I also know that vision is directly related to my quality of life. Feeling your best includes seeing your best, too. And part of seeing your best is being aware of eye diseases and your risk for them.

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month — the perfect time to spread the word about glaucoma and encourage others to add learning about the disease to their list of resolutions.

To help get you started, here are the five things you need to know about glaucoma.

1.Glaucoma can cause vision loss and blindness that can’t be reversed. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which affects your vision since the optic nerve sends visual images to your brain. You can save your vision with early detection and treatment of glaucoma.

2.There is only one way to know if you have glaucoma. Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to find out if you have glaucoma. During the exam, an eye care professional places drops in your eyes to widen the pupils and looks for signs of the disease in the optic nerve.

3.There are no early symptoms. Glaucoma often has no early warning signs. No pain. No discomfort. No blurry vision. Advanced glaucoma will affect your vision, but you shouldn’t wait for symptoms to visit your eye doctor!

4.In the United States, half of the people who have glaucoma don’t know they have it. Nearly 3 million Americans have glaucoma, and half don’t know it. Lack of awareness and lack of symptoms prevent people from getting the disease diagnosed early. You can change that! Find out if you have glaucoma by visiting an eye doctor.

5.Some people are at higher risk than others. African-Americans over 40, adults over 60 (especially Latinos), and people with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risk. That makes early detection important. Are you at higher risk? Find out by talking to your family to find out if anyone has had glaucoma.

Now that you’ve got the facts about glaucoma, make a resolution for healthier vision. Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam today! And encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same.

To learn more about glaucoma, visit http://www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma.

The Women’s March turnout is at 3.3 million and counting

3.3 million.

That’s the estimated number of people who participated in women’s marches in more than 300 cities and towns across the United States on Saturday.

That figure is expected to go up, as it does not yet include data from around 200 towns and cities believed to have hosted marches across the country.
Women and men took to streets across the country, in support of women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, and civil rights.

Washington, D.C., reportedly had the highest turnout, with 485,000 protesters, a number so large it overwhelmed the official march route, packed the National Mall and other avenues as the mass slowly moved from the U.S. Capitol to the White House. Followed by Los Angeles, with 450,000, and then New York, with 400,000 marchers. Our hometown of Olympia welcomed more than 10,000 marchers.

Women’s marches were also held in cities across the world, including London, Nairobi, Sydney, Mexico City, Athens, Moscow, Tokyo, and Antarctica, to name just a few.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month


January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and ICSEW wants you to know that there’s a lot you can do to prevent cervical cancer.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, but many people with HPV don’t know they are infected. HPV is also a major cause of cervical cancer. Each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer.

The good news?

The HPV vaccine (shot) can prevent HPV. Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests (called Pap tests) and follow-up care.

In honor of National Cervical Health Awareness Month, ICSEW encourages:
Women to start getting regular Pap tests at age 21
Parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12

Teens and young adults also need to get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t get it as pre-teens. Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the vaccine.

Thanks to the health care reform law, you and your family members may be able to get these services at no cost to you. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

Did you know?

The FDA has approved a two-dose schedule for the Gardasil HPV vaccine for males and females ages 9-14?

Taking small steps can help keep you safe and healthy.

To learn more visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition at http://www.nccc-online.org/


Did you know you can get Healthy Benefits from Pokemon Go?


Pokémon Go has been receiving lots of media attention recently. But what is this game doing for players’ health? It’s reasonable to believe a game based off of physical movement is getting people up and moving, but is there more? We often overlook additional health factors that are more than surface deep. Pokémon Go is helping people with invisible illnesses, such as social disorders, anxiety, or depression. Take a look at the article “Pokemon Go Reportedly Helping People’s Mental Health, Depression” written by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. and published by PsychCentral.com.

Remember to stay safe while playing with some helpful tips from these two articles:

Play ‘Pokemon Go’ Without Landing in the ER

10 ‘Pokemon Go’ Real World Dangers to Avoid



SmartHealth App now available for iPhone!


Take SmartHealth with you wherever you go this summer.

The Limeade iPhone app is now available for SmartHealth. Download it today! You can explore, join and track your activities on the go — and you’ll earn 100 points when you join the Go Mobile activity.

Here’s how to download the Limeade app:

  1. Open the iOS app store on your iPhone
  2. Search for “Limeade” and download
  3. Open the app and enter the program code: SmartHealth
  4. Login with your username (or email address) and password

Android users: you can still earn 100 points for logging into SmartHealth on your phone’s web browser. Click here to add the browser to your phone’s homepage. Then, claim your points through the Go Mobile activity tile.

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day 2016

This week Governor Inslee signed proclamation to celebrate this year’s Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day to support and encourage all state agencies participation on June, 23rd.  Resources are available at http://daughtersandsonstowork.org/.

The theme for 2016 is “Sparking AHA! Moments.”

Thank you Governor Inslee for your continued support in this meaningful day.

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day 2016

100% Talent: A Gender Equity Initiative for King County

Recognizing the value of women in the workplace is good business. This is the concept behind 100% Talent, the five-year initiative of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Women’s Funding Alliance to increase gender equity in King County.  Go to wfalliance.org to learn more.

100% Talent has identified 31 straightforward best-practice solutions for employers to increase gender equity.  Read the report.