Introducing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — DSHS Beloved Community Award

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Department of Social and Health Services “Beloved Community” Award. The Beloved Community envisions a world where everyone experiences justice, is cared for and where poverty, hunger and hate are eliminated. — Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Congratulations to the 2023 recipients — Derrick Ross, DSHS Aging and Long-Term Support Administration; Ginger Kwan, Open Doors for Multicultural Families; Ovation Technology. Images of DSHS logo and MLK Monument.

As we celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. state and national holiday on Monday, it’s important to remember the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and civil rights activist who played a crucial role in the American civil rights movement.

In honor of his dedication to advocating for the rights and equality of Black Americans and other marginalized groups, the Department of Social and Health Services Office of Equity, Diversity, Access and Inclusion is proud to announce the agency’s new Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — DSHS Beloved Community Award.

Assistant secretaries from each DSHS administration were invited to nominate an employee, a community partner and a business that has made significant contributions in the areas of service to the community, social justice/human rights, and/or racial equity, anti-racism and the empowerment of Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. After much deliberation, the DSHS Cabinet selected one recipient for each category, who exemplify the work of Dr. King and his peaceful activism for human rights.

The Employee Category award was given to Derrick Ross from the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration. He has made it his calling to stand up against racism in all its forms, whether it is inappropriate, unkind racist statements at the individual level in the workplace or in the form of built-in racialized barriers or in identifying structural racism in long-standing policies, practices and procedures within our own department, he confronts it and commits himself to conversations and actions to increase awareness and motivate positive change for us all.

The Community Partner Category award was given to Ginger Kwan from Open Doors for Multicultural Families. ODMF envisions a world where all culturally and linguistically diverse individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities and their families can thrive in an inclusive society of their design. They engage and partner with culturally and linguistically diverse individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families. They use a cultural brokerage model to navigate services, provide specialized programming and advocate for systems change.

The Business Category award was given to Ovation Technology of Olympia. The business partnership with Ovation Technology allowed DSHS to acquire computer equipment quickly and efficiently to support the overnight requirement that most state employees work from home at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This partnership was formed at the height of the pandemic when there were significant supply chain issues and continues to this day. As a Black business owner, Malcolm Waters is a responsible community activist and has worked for the past 30 years recruiting, training and developing Blacks and other members of marginalized communities in the IT field, by working with local talent, interns from community colleges, and the community at large.

Congratulations to all the nominees and the award winners. They are truly transforming lives through their commitment to service to others and social justice for all in furtherance of Dr. King’s vision for the Beloved Community. DSHS looks forward to expanding these awards in 2024 as we continue to recognize our staff and partners and their work towards pro-equity and anti-racism.