After initially being hired to assist with providing services to local citizens with disabilities and those dealing with chemical dependency, Meja Handlen has worn several hats over the past eight years in her work at Lewis County Public Health and Social Services.
She began her new role as Lewis County Public Health and Social Services director on Friday.
“I want to say thank you to her for being a loyal servant for us for a long time,” Lewis County Manager Erik Martin said in a news release from the county.
“I work here and live here because I care about our community,” Handlen told Lewis County commissioners on Wednesday. “We’ve all had opportunities to step up and everyone in this room has done that, so I’m really proud to be alongside people who know what to do to make sure people have health, people are safe and people want to stay in this community.”
Lewis County Commissioner Lee Grose commended Handlen for her efforts with COVID-19 response and her work at the recent Goat Rocks Fire evacuation center in Randle.
“In crisis you want someone who is going to be a calming factor,” Lewis County Commissioner Sean Swope added. “It’s a big deal to have good leadership in times of crisis.”
Lewis County Commissioner Lindsey Pollock also praised her work.
“Much appreciate you being the face of our Public Health and Social Services,” she said. “It’s not the way it may have looked eight years ago when you started and here you are and this is fantastic.”
Handlen takes over for JP Anderson, who stepped down earlier this year.