Eastern State Hospital welcomes EDIA administrator to team

John Levi

One of the key actions outlined in the DSHS Truth, Social Justice and Anti-Racism three-year Action Plan details an effort to foster an environment for brave conversations and to embrace the discomfort.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Administrator John Levi is now at the center of this environment at Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake, and he couldn’t be any happier.

Levi joined the ESH team June 1 and is a key piece of the Behavioral Health Administration’s commitment to combatting racist policies and systems that deter from overall equity and inclusion.

“I believe in truly building relationships to help understand our life experiences and how those play into the greater good of seeing people for people,” Levi said.

Levi, a Tacoma native and graduate of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, comes to DSHS/BHA after stints working in community engagement and on EDAI efforts for Elevate Health of Pierce County and as a site coordinator for Communities in Schools of Tacoma. During his college years, he interned at the state Capitol and for former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland.

He is excited about the opportunity to incorporate conversations about equity, diversity and inclusion concepts in team meetings ­– and to be a catalyst to get staff engaged in this important effort.

“Humanity brings us together. It’s about listening to our differences and breaking down barriers to understanding,” said Levi, the hospital’s first EDAI administrator.

While Levi is still working out the exact details of the EDAI program at Eastern and how best to reach staff, throughout both his professional and personal life he has learned that encouraging people to talk about their life experiences with race, self-awareness and one’s own implicit and unconscious biases — among a variety of other topics — is a good place to start.

“I’d like to unpack all the ways we are diverse and bring (each person’s) humanity to the forefront,” he said.

By coming together and seeing commonalities, “we won’t be impacted by human behaviors that are negative,” Levi said.

For more information on BHA’s commitment to EDAI, click here.