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Thurston County, Washington

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Board of Health

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 three currently elected Thurston County Commissioners and four 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 

Tye Menser, Chair 

Maria Williams, Vice Chair

Gary Edwards, Member

Beth Harvey, Member

Carolina Mejia, Member

Lynn Nelson, Member

Robin Vazquez, Member

Picture of Commissioner Tye Menser, District 3

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 September 1997 Tye began a 21-year legal career that included commercial and intellectual property litigation, criminal defense, and family law.  Tye has been admitted to the state bar associations of Illinois, California, Alaska, and Washington. During the early part of his career, he spent 7 years in northern Alaska with the Alaska Public Defender Agency — half of that representing Native Alaskans in the remote Arctic village of Kotzebue — providing legal services to indigent clients who could not otherwise afford an attorney.

In 2023, Tye serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of County Commissioners, and Chair of the Board of Health. 

pictured: Maria Williams Vice Chair

In 2023, Maria Williams serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Health. Maria is a community-based health provider and psychologist. Her passion is to stand for public health consumers. 


Pictured: Dr. Beth Harvey

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.  

Picture of Commissioner Gary Edwards, District 2

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.

His proudest accomplishment in 20 years as sheriff was initiating the "Sex Offender Registration Program" which was developed right here in Thurston County. Gary has also served as a statewide leader and past president of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and the Washington State Sheriffs Association. While holding the office of Sheriff, Gary worked collaboratively with all enforcement agencies to share information and resources. He plans to continue focusing on partnerships and collaboration with other agencies and jurisdictions to keep Thurston County a prosperous community. 

Picture of Commissioner Carolina Mejia, District 1

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. During her time in law school, Carolina gained valuable experience at a law firm that specializes in immigration and personal injury. Subsequently, she worked as a Judicial Assistant with Thurston County Superior Court from 2015 until prior to assuming public office.

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 continues to hold this position as of 2023. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Health, where she actively works to promote the health and well-being of her constituents.

Board of Health member Robin Vazquez

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. 




head shot of board of health member: Lynn Nelson

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. Her professional interests focus on health care policy, and in addition to currently serving as the incoming President Elect for the National Association of School, she is the past Legislative Chair for the School Nurse Organization of Washington, and a former elected member of the Washington State Nurses Association Policy Council. In addition, she is a member of the School Nurse Association of Washington, the Washington State Nurses Association, the Washington Association of School Administrators, and the National Association of School Nurses.

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.