Heather Thomas: Working together on public health

Heather Thomas

More stories about Emerging Leaders 2017

This is one of a series of stories profiling finalists for the Emerging Leaders award, which is presented annually by The Herald Business Journal. The winner will be announced April 6.

Heather Thomas enjoys taking a complex situation and making it easier to understand.

“I like to think this is why people often come to me to bounce ideas off of or think through a different approach,” Thomas wrote in her nomination form.

It’s a useful skill in her job as the public and government affairs manager for the Snohomish Health District.

In that role, Thomas works with the community on public health concerns including the flu, mumps, E. coli and measles in the communities.

Thomas also helped coordinate the per capita contributions process, seeking to have $2 per resident toward public health. She delivered presentations for all the cities and Snohomish County.

“Budget needs aside, the ability for us to get out into the community and share the role public health plays in every community was much needed,” Thomas wrote.

She’s also worked with the cities on a series of heroin forums, helped enact the county’s vaping laws in 2015 and organized a drug take-back program in 2016.

Her knack for working on complex issues must come in handy as representative on Snohomish County Tomorrow’s steering committee.

“Looking at growth management needs, and all that entails, relates to public health but is not within my day-to-day focus, so it’s nice to learn more about what issues the cities are grappling with,” Thomas writes.

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