Vision Action Network's leader, Sia Lindstrom, will serve Washington County in a new way
by: Jaime Valdez, Sia Lindstrom

Sia Lindstrom is taking on a new challenge.

After four years as executive director of the Vision Action Network of Washington County, she will draw on her public health background and community problem-solving experience as the county's new deputy county administrator for the Health and Human Services Department.

'I was flattered and honored when they approached me with this opportunity,' Lindstrom said. 'I'm excited to be a part of county leadership at a really important time in our county's history.

'I want to lend my skills and be a part of the team to decide what our community is going to become as it continues to grow.'

In her new role, Lindstrom will work closely with Rod Branyan, the new director of the Health and Human Services Department, on strategic planning for the future.

The department is responsible for public health, mental health, developmental disabilities, aging, veterans and children and family services. Supported by a $63 million budget and 232 full-time employees, the department also oversees animal services and the county's solid waste and recycling program.

'Sia brings a tremendous, proven record of collaborative, inclusive decision making to the team,' said Philip Bransford, Washington County spokesman.

Walt Peck, chairman of the Vision Action Network's board, agreed and said Washington County was fortunate to have Lindstrom joining its team.

'We are very happy for Sia,' Peck said. 'Washington County recognizes that she is a very, very talented individual and she's going to make a difference there just as she has with VAN.

'She's very bright, incredibly hard working and most importantly, she's a fabulous bridge builder within the community. Sia inspires people with a sense of 'We can do this.''

The Vision Action Network's mission is to promote and support community-based problem solving through relationship building, planning and implementation programs that coordinate public, private and individual efforts within the community.

The non-profit organization has matured and flourished under her leadership with community support and contributions increasing nearly four-fold, Peck said.

'We have an abundance of talented people in this community,' he added. 'When you get the right people around the table, great things can happen and Sia is a master at that.'

In 2007, the network helped organize an Environmental Sustainability Summit, the Walk of Unity, Mayors' Interfaith Breakfast, Faith Forum and Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

The network also initiated a sustainability feasibility study, launched the 21-member Human Rights Council of Washington County, sponsored the I Give Where I Live project, initiated a study to explore philanthropic infrastructures in the county and supported creation of school-based health clinics in several county districts.

It has also worked closely with Project Access Washington County, a partnership that next month will begin providing healthcare to uninsured, low-income individuals.

'I'm proud of the broad portfolio of programs and initiatives we've worked on from philanthropy to healthcare access to sustainability to human rights,' Lindstrom said. 'We've helped, in partnership with the community, to get some new, innovative programs on the ground.

'That is really exciting to me. I've been coalition building for a long time. Collaboration is a theme in my life.'

Prior to her work in Washington County, Lindstrom served as project manager for evaluating and designing HIV programs for the Multnomah County Health Department and Oregon Department of Human Services.

She also served as executive director of the Women's Intercommunity AIDS Resource in Portland, project director of the Senior Companion Program in Memphis and a public health consultant at the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.

She earned a master of public health degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a master's degree in cultural anthropology from Wayne State University in Detroit.

Since moving to the area in 1996, Lindstrom has found her place.

'I feel so connected to the Washington County community through my work with the Vision Action Network,' the Garden Home resident said. 'I've come to love this area and the people here who are committed to making Washington County the best place it can be.

'It's been a joy to provide a venue for folks from all sectors of the community to come together, share their experiences and find really creative solutions to anticipate what the community needs will be in the future.

'It takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but when you see the sheer force of will people have to make things happen to better our community, it feels a little magical.'

Lindstrom will continue her work with the Vision Action Network for the next four months as its board searches for her replacement.

She said stepping down from her network post is bitter-sweet.

'This is an opportunity to serve this community in a new way,' Lindstrom said of her new job with the county. 'It's a good fit for who I am.'

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