When Amelia Clark, the new administrator for the Spokane Regional Health District, compares Spokane and her home state of Indiana, the landscape differs, but the problems are similar.
Life expectancy around Indianapolis varies by more than 10 years depending on your address. Spokane has the same issue.
“Your ZIP code says more about your life expectancy than your genetic code,” Clark said.
Clark will begin leading the Spokane Regional Health District next month, replacing Torney Smith, who retired in January after 28 years.
Clark said she planned to spend her first six months as administrator learning what’s important to Spokane, but equity, women’s health and early prevention for children in schools have always been close to her heart.
“I think women are kind of the chief medical officers of the home,” she said, “but they often overlook their own health because they’re taking care of others.”
Breean Beggs, chair of the Spokane Regional Health District’s Board and a Spokane city councilman, said leaders at the district, including Smith, have been working toward making health care more equitable in Spokane. Clark was one of four candidates the board interviewed and her work with nonprofits and leadership experience made her stand out, he said.
“She can bring that work forward,” he said. “We’re also confident that she can run an agency of our size from day one.”
Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney said when they interviewed the four candidates, Clark rose above because she had the perfect experience for the area. She also visited Spokane before her interview, which left a positive impression with Kuney.
“We’re really excited,” Kuney said. “I think she’s a great personality and will be a great leader.”
Clark’s most recent job was as a consultant, but she previously spent six years as a regional vice president for Meridian Health Service in Muncie, Indiana. While in Muncie, she led all integrated primary care and behavioral health programs, as well as a program working with pregnant women with a substance abuse disorder.
She has also worked as an operations manager and social studies teacher at Hope Academy, the only recovery high school in Indiana. Every student at Hope Academy was in recovery from substance abuse. In addition, she has worked with a health care organization to hold clinics in schools and offer vocational rehab to the homeless.
Clark is working toward her doctorate in public health and has a master’s degree in philanthropic studies and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology.
She said she was excited to move to Washington with her husband and three children after decades in Indiana.
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