EVERETT — The city of Everett’s public health and safety director who spearheaded efforts to find better ways to aid the mentally ill and people with addictions was named the recipient of this year’s Emerging Leader award.
Hil Kaman accepted the honor at a reception Thursday night at the Schack Art Center in downtown Everett attended by nearly 200 people.
“There’s nobody at the city or in the community who is not impacted by the addiction crisis and mental health crisis,” Kaman said. “It’s really an honor to live in a community that sees economic development and public safety being consistent with the values of compassion, the values of inclusiveness, meaning everyone in our community has value.”
Kaman, in his former role as a city prosecutor, helped establish and continues to lead Everett’s Chronic Utilizer Alternative Response Team.
The effort aims to help repeat defendants overcome underlying problems that lead to criminal behavior. Kaman wanted to start the program after one man who was a chronic alcoholic and who showed signs of mental illness was sentenced to jail for 800 days over an eight-year period.
The team, known as CHART, brings together law enforcement, social service providers, health care providers, firefighters and others to find a better solution in these cases.
The Emerging Leader award was started by The Herald Business Journal in partnership with accounting firm Moss Adams, Economic Alliance Snohomish County, Leadership Snohomish County and Puget PR. Other sponsors include Community Transit, Snohomish County PUD and Waste Management.
Moss Adams partner in charge Rob Grannum was approached last year to be a supporter of the event and he said, “Of course, it was a loud yes.
“We’re embedded in this community,” Grannum said. “I live right here in Everett and as do all of our partners and all of our employees. Folks like you (the finalists) make a big difference in our communities. I’m really happy to be a part of this.”
More than 60 people were nominated this year for the competition that seeks to highlight people who are doing good work in their professions and in the community in Snohomish County.
A panel of 10 judges reviewed the nominations and narrowed the list to the top four along with eight finalists.
Kaman was named the winner. He thanked Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson for being a champion for finding solutions for the most vulnerable. He also thanked the City Council for supporting the efforts.
“I think it’s important to recognize those people who day in and day out are working with people with addiction and mental illness living in poverty and living on the streets,” Kaman said. “Our first responders, they don’t have a choice to who they go to when they get that 911 call.
“Whether they’re firefighters or police officers or social workers or housing advocates, they help anybody who are out on the streets,” he said. “Working with this population is not always easy.”
The other three of the top four were Andy Buchan, vice president for strategy at Esterline’s Control & Communication Systems in Everett; Jasmine Diedrich, owner of Diedrich Espresso, which has stands throughout Snohomish and Skagit counties; and Rachel Kittle, the Mukilteo woman who started the nonprofit Leadership Launch.
Other finalists were:
Cory Amstrong-Hoss, associate executive and director of evaluation at Mukilteo Family YMCA;
Tyler Chism, owner of Milltown Creative in Everett who co-founded the LiveInEverett.com website;
Elysa Hovard, director of outreach at Everett’s Coccoon House;
Jeff Rasmussen, director of the Monroe Boys & Girls Club;
Peter Scott, Everett Public School’s director of curriculum, assessment and special programs;
Michael Swanson, vice president at Coastal Community Bank;
Heather Thomas, public and government affairs manager for the Snohomish Health District;
Megan Wolfe, director and founder of Girls on the Run.
This is the second year that the Emerging Leader competition was held. Last year, Chris Adams, a partner at Adams & Duncan law firm in Everett, won the inaugural award.