From the Hip: Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer 

Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer, King County Executive Office

Why our True North and Values are important  

When King County employees talk about why they chose to work here, the answers tend to be pretty similar: “I want to help my community.” “I want to make a difference in people’s lives.” “I want to do the work I really care about.”

It’s no surprise that these responses are closely aligned with our True North – Making King County a welcoming community where every person can thrive – because it’s a vision that succinctly captures the work that we do and why we do it.

We are a big organization, 19 departments and agencies across the three branches of government, with multiple divisions, services, worksites, and lines of business. The work that we do is incredibly diverse; the services we provide are varied.

Yet all of our work is connected by a common goal: to make this community better, or to make it a welcoming community where every person can thrive.

Last Tuesday, King County Executive Dow Constantine emailed all employees to officially launch the Executive Branch Values. Core values are essential to any organization. They shape the culture, set expectations, and reflect what the organization believes in and how it will act.

We know why we do this work; the values are how we do it:

  • We are one team
  • We solve problems
  • We focus on the customer
  • We drive for results
  • We are racially just
  • We respect all people
  • We lead the way
  • We are responsible stewards.

The way that we treat our customers is just as important as the way we treat one another. As Chief People Officer, I am focused on building a culture that allows every employee to come to work and feel that they are supported, treated with respect, and have every opportunity to learn, grow, and advance their careers.

The values will help us build this culture, one that respects all people and is racially just; where we are one team, each of us leaders and problem-solvers; where we drive for results for our customers, and are responsible stewards of our environment, finances, and built and cultural heritage.

Over the next nine months, we will work in our teams to learn more about each of the values and how they apply to our work. We will also review our policies and procedures to make sure they reflect our values. This is how we will embed the values into our culture and ensure that we live the values, lead the way, and apply them to all of our work.

This is an exciting step in our ongoing efforts to build a workplace where every employee can feel their best and do their best work, so every person in our community can thrive. That’s why we came to King County, and that’s why we do this work.