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Thurston County, Washington

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Board of Health

image of board of health approving 2024 opioid response plan

In Washington State, there are 35 local health jurisdictions (LHJ's). The Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department is the local government entity or LHJ serving Thurston County. Local boards of health are described in Washington State law as the governing boards for LHJ's across the state.

The Thurston County Board of Health is comprised of the five currently elected Thurston County Commissioners, a Lacey City representative, a tribal representative and five Thurston County community members. The Board of Health oversees efforts to improve the public's health by providing leadership that shapes the Department's approach to public health policies and programs.

Board of Health 

Robin Vazquez, Chair of Board  Carolina Mejia, Vice Chair of Board
Tye Menser, Member (BoCC)  Wayne Fournier, Member (BoCC) 
Gary Edwards, Member (BoCC)  Emily Clouse, Member (BoCC)
Beth Harvey, Member Lynn Nelson, Member
Perla Newton, Member Tanzania Zenzali-Marshall, Member
Heidi Knadel, Member Ray Peters, Tribal Representative

Board of Health Expansion

Biographies


image of board of health member Robin Vasquez
Robin Vasquez 

Term ends: 

Robin joined the Thurston County Board of Health in December 2022, she's also a councilmember for the City of Lacey and brings a wide range of knowledge to the Board of Health. Robin works as an Employee Resources Director, for Washing State Health Care Authority. Her interests include language access and cultural inclusion, walkable neighborhoods and commute trip reduction, and emergency preparedness. 

Robin has also been involved in various council committees and intergovernmental boards and agencies over the years. Some of her experience includes her time working with the Land Use & Environment Committee, Transportation Committee, Intercity Transit Authority, Olympic Region Clear Air Agency (ORCAA), the Thurston Regional Planning Council and more. 

In January 2024, Robin was chosen to serve as Chair of the Board of Health. 


image of board member carolina mejia
Carolina Mejia

Term ends: 

Carolina is a dedicated resident of Thurston County where she has resided with her spouse and two children for over a decade. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a Pre-Law minor from Christian Brothers University in 2013, before making a permanent move to the Pacific Northwest to further her education. Carolina is committed to volunteering and advocating for diverse and underserved communities in her new home. She has remained an active member of the Kiwanis organization and is dedicated to promoting community engagement. 

In 2021, Carolina was elected to the Thurston County Board of County Commissioners. In 2022, she was chosen to serve as Chair, and she held the position through 2023. Recently, she was chosen as Vice Chair for the Board of Health, where she actively works to promote the health and well-being of her constituents.


image of board of health member Gary Edwards
Gary Edwards

Term ends: 

Born and raised in Yelm, Gary has family roots that run deep – all the way back to the 1800's when the Edwards family were homesteaders in the area. Gary and his wife of 51 years (Debbie) call Yelm home are proud parents of three children and have nine grandchildren. Debbie spends her time serving the community as well – she has spent 34 years on the Yelm School Board.

Gary served our country in the Army and continuing his passion for the security of our citizens, he dedicated 39 years to law enforcement. He was first elected Sheriff of Thurston County in 1986. For 20 years, he was known as the "working sheriff" that fought to improve public safety through legislation. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Gary plans to continue focusing on partnerships and collaboration with other agencies and jurisdictions to keep Thurston County a prosperous community. 


image of board of health member Tye Menser
Tye Menser

Term ends: 

Tye has lived in Thurston County for more than a decade with his wife, a kindergarten teacher, and two children. In 1993, Tye graduated with honors from Harvard College, with a degree in Government. In 1997, he graduated from law school at the University of California at Berkeley. During his time in law school, Tye taught himself Spanish, spent a summer studying language in Morelia, Mexico, and spent one semester studying law, in Spanish, at the University of Chile in Santiago. In 2023, Tye served as the Vice Chair of the Board of County Commissioners, and Chair of the Board of Health. 


image of board of health member Emily Clouse
Emily Clouse

Term ends: 

Emily is a combat veteran, a nonprofit leader, and a proud union member through her work with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). She is a dedicated advocate for youth and families in Thurston County and is the co-founder and Executive Director of CARE, an organization serving formerly incarcerated youth. Emily believes that it's time to move beyond punishment and towards a system that prioritizes restorative justice and reintegration.

In 2023, Emily was elected to the Thurston County Board of County Commissioners, additionally she is a member of the Board of Health, where she actively works to promote the health and well-being of her constituents.


image of board member Wayne Fournier
Wayne Fournier

Term ends: 

Wayne was born and raised in Tenino, Washington where he happily resides with his family and many lifelong friends. From 2012 – 2015, Wayne served on the Tenino City Council, before being elected to Mayor of City in 2015. Wayne served as Mayor from 2015 – 2023. As Mayor he was responsible for major city improvement projects including investments and improvements into the city’s park, quarry pool and road systems. 

In 2023, Wayne was elected to the Thurston County Board of County Commissioners. In 2023, he was chosen to serve as Vice-Chair, and he continues to hold this position as of 2024. Additionally, he serves on the Thurston County Board of Heath and serves as the County Commissions member of the Economic Development Council, where he actively works to promote the economic well-being of his district and constituents.


image of board of health member Beth Harvey
Beth Harvey

Term ends: 

Dr. Beth Harvey is a pediatrician who grew up in Olympia.  She graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Medical School in their combined BA/MD program and then did her residency and chief residency at the University of Utah/Primary Children’s. She has been in practice at South Sound Pediatrics since finishing her training and joined the practice that cared for her as a child. She is a past president of the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is Vice President of the Board of the Washington Vaccine Association and is on the Board of the Seattle Children’s Care Network and is a consultant on the Vaccine Advisory Committee.  She has a keen interest in integrated behavioral health, partnering with community experts on primary prevention and mitigating the impacts of trauma and social determinants of health.  She loves connecting kids to nature and promoting literacy by sharing with families to the joy of snuggling and reading books together.  

Her goal on the Board of Health is to listen well, partner, and represent the local medical community and the diverse needs of families and children in our County.  


image of board member Lynn Nelson
Lynn Nelson

Term ends: 

Lynn has lived, worked, and raised a family in Thurston County since 1985. As a Registered Nurse (RN), her professional career spans more than 3 decades, and has included acute care, home health and hospice, and school health.  She currently serves as the Senior Director of Health Services and Integrated Student Supports at Capital Area Educational Service District #113, in Tumwater, Washington, where she has worked since 2003.  Her practice is grounded in the belief that providing quality service for children and families must include an intentional focus on equity in both the health and education arenas.

As a strong advocate for helping students succeed academically by mitigating nonacademic barriers to success, she strives to develop and administer effective programming in both school health and dropout prevention, intervention, and re-engagement programming arenas. In 2023, Lynn Nelson became a member on the Board of Health. Lynn's extensive background as an RN and her contributions to the education system aide her in representing community stakeholders. 


image of board member Tanzania Zenzali-Marshall
Tanzania Zenzali-Marshall

Term ends: 

In addition to her lived experience as an active consumer of our U.S. healthcare system services, Tanzania Zenzali-Marshall has vigorously worked in public health for about 10 years with special emphasis on Community Health, Workforce Development, and Mental & Behavioral Health. Currently working as the Program Manager of the Public Health Equity department at Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, she is excited to create and contribute to local health initiatives through policy and research that will add value and betterment to the greater community.


image of board of health member Perla Newton
Perla Newton

Term ends: 

Perla comes to the Board of Health with over 10 years of expertise as an emergency medical nurse. In this role she demonstrated outstanding leadership in various community initiatives. Newton believes her lens of identifying with historically marginalized and underrepresented communities will help bring voices to the table that normally do not have one. Perla believes the stronger a community is, the better it can provide public health services.


image of board of health member Heidi Knadel
Heidi Knadel

Term ends: 

Heidi Knadel is a licensed mental health clinician and interested in learning more about the indicators and causes of behavioral health challenges in our communities. Heidi has a wealth of experience in mental health crisis support and high intesity care. With a goal to improve the health and safety of youth and families in Thurston County through cross sector collaboration, Heidi makes a great additional to the expanded Board of Health. 


Ray Peters

Squaxin Island Tribal Representative

Term ends: 12/31/2026

Ray Peters was born and raised in Washington State. He holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Whitworth University. After graduation Ray was a College Associate Professor and basketball coach for 19 years. Ray was inducted into the Saint Martin’s University Athletic Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a coach. He returned to Squaxin Island Tribe to serve as the Deputy Executive Director then promoted to the Executive Director for ten years. He currently serves as the Intergovernmental Affairs/Council Liaison for the tribe for the past 8 years. Ray serves on many boards and committees for the Squaxin Island Tribe, including the Thurston County Board of Health. 


 

Contact the Clerk's Office at 360-786-5440 or email PHSS_Boards@co.thurston.wa.us if you have additional questions.