Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month: Environmental Health Services hosts event with Chief Justice Gonzalez of the Washington State Supreme Court, Sept. 9

A few years ago, when Environmental Health Services (EHS) Program Manager Greg Wilson was asked to create a program that looked for the future workforce for Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC), he not only ran with it, but wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity. Today he serves as the Program Manager for the EHS Division’s Education Engagement Strategy Program.

The Program focuses on providing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) opportunities for middle school to college-age students that include internships, work study, and job shadow opportunities. It also offers an eight-day teacher externship and has a wealth of community partners throughout a network of academia who act as supportive hosts.

“The program is focused on STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – but the ‘A’ was added later to provide for further opportunities where youth are interested in Arts,” shared Greg. “We are promoting, developing, and facilitating programs to capture the imagination of all stakeholders.”

For Greg, the program’s objective has always been to do one simple thing.

“It’s about connecting hearts and minds. It’s about bringing a love component while making a positive difference through people,” explains Greg.

After PHSKC declared “Racism is a Public Health Crisis,” Greg sought a new level of engagement – one that would particularly join students of all ages with employees at all levels, to discuss racism.

“I want to honor the past and celebrate the future. I believe we need to have open and informal conversations – not depositions, but opportunities where we may connect and appreciate each other’s life story,” said Greg. “This is how the CoffeeConversation series evolved.”

This Thursday, Sept. 9 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., the Education Engagement Strategy Program is partnering with the King County Latinx Affinity Group for a CoffeeConversation Session with Chief Justice Steven C. Gonzalez of the Washington State Supreme Court. This is the fourth conversation the program will be hosting. The previous session invited Dr. Ana Mari Cauce, President of the University of Washington and Stella Keating, a Tacoma teen advocate for trans and nonbinary youth. The series was launched by epidemiologists Amy Laurent, with Public Health – Seattle and King County (PHSKC), and Mo West, with the University of Washington. Thursday’s session will be followed by one featuring PHSKC Healthcare Managers Amy Curtis and Tiffany Liu to celebrate National Nurses Week, May 6-12. Afterwards, the next conversation will be with the professional ice hockey team, The Seattle Kraken.

When asked how he hopes this Thursday’s session will go, Greg responds with, “Come as you are. Conversations are meant to allow us to meet each other where we are. It’s these types of conversations that will allow us to inspire and ignite the passions of youth by encouraging them to honor their journey – building their self-confidence by stirring up the many possibilities, while the important Community Village empowers them to prepare for pursuits they may never have envisioned as leaders for tomorrow.”

To join the CoffeeConversation event on Thursday, Sept. 9, visit this Zoom link and enter Meeting ID: 833 5995 4651, and password: 890148. The event is from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. and is open to the first 300 participants.

About: Greg considers himself a generalist who took the community college track then transferred to Arizona State University where he graduated in business. Afterwards, he went on to become a systems engineer for IBM, then took on various executive leadership positions with the University of Washington, the Boys & Girls Club, and Boeing. He also founded a non-profit organization before coming to King County.

About: The King County Latinx Affinity Group’s mission is to build equitable community for King County Latinx employees and the Latinx community at large. Our values define the way we act, what’s important to us, and our expectations for ourselves and one another. For more information, visit the webpage at www.kingcounty.gov/AffinityGroups.