Lifetime Achievement Award (NON-PROFIT) 2019 – Liz Dunbar

Lifetime Achievement Award (NON-PROFIT) 2019 – Liz Dunbar


I think that Liz’s brand is peaceful
heart, fierce warrior. And that’s the way she leads, she’s calm, and kind, gracious
and methodical, a little bit on the quiet side, but you know immediately
that she’s an unrelenting passionate warrior and an advocate. Tacoma Community
House is a very unusual organization in this part of the country, but this is the
only organization between Seattle and Portland that provides services for
immigrant and refugee families. And immigrant and refugee status are really
different in terms of what kind of benefits you get, and the kind of thing
that they’re doing is really important to help these people become part of the
community and learn the skills they need to be successful. I have known Liz for
about 20 years and have greatly admired her all that time, first for her role,
her leadership role in Department of Social and Health Services and then more
recently as the executive director of Tacoma Community House. Liz has done so
much in terms of leadership roles through the years. She has someone who’s
not only accomplished a great deal but has contributed a great deal to this
community. My name is Liz Dunbar and I recently retired as the executive
director of Tacoma Community House. I was the executive director for almost 10
years. Tacoma Community House is a very long-standing organization in this
community it’s been around for 109 years. It was started as a settlement house for
new immigrants in the Hilltop Area of Tacoma. We’ve stayed in that neighborhood
ever since, so been in the same location on our second building and soon to be
third building for the operation of the programs. Over the years the
organization has done a lot of different services but it’s certainly for the last
forty some years has focused really on serving immigrants and refugees. So
annually for the last several years the community house has served about 3500
people a year. We’ve had some wonderful stories with alumni
of TCH, people who were in their 70s 80s and 90s, who tells stories about coming
here for kindergarten and Girl Scout and Boy Scout troop meetings and all kinds
of things so we know we’ve touched the lives of lots of people in this
community. Well Liz, Liz Dunbar reminds me of one of my favorite leadership quotes
which is, “of a good leader when their work is done their aim fulfilled the
people will say we did this ourselves”, and I would add to that quote
specifically about Liz – and we did it always with an eye on equity and justice.
There’s Liz, and always highly regarded as human as effective as forceful
without being mean about it, there she is. And it’s been a pleasure to be
affiliated with that and the ways I have been and to watch her help this
community grow and be more and more successful every time she touched it. Liz
and I worked together at what we called DSHS, I was the secretary of DSHS and she
was one of the assistant secretaries but I’ve known list for over 40 years, and
Liz and I met at the Tacoma Community House, 40 years ago. And our lives have
interchanged over the 40 years in different capacities, when she worked
for one agency I worked for another agency and that we both came together. So my
name is Beth Boggs and I am the executive director of the American
Leadership Forum of Tacoma Pierce County I know that when she walks into a room I
certainly stand up a little bit taller and I think other people do too. She has
a significant sphere of influence in this community and has for 25 years, 30
years, probably even more. I have most intensely relied on her through our
friendship through “Fab Five”, there’s a group of five women CEOs, and we have
been meeting together once a month for about ten years. And I have relied on Liz’s advice and her counsel, she has been incredibly helpful, in times where I just
probably couldn’t find my way past an issue. Professionally I’ve known Liz
since 2009, if you look in some dictionary or somewhere for a leader
Liz’s picture is going to be there. I admire her so much because she is very
patient. She is just able to see the big picture for
everybody involved, I mean she is just so good at wrapping her arms around an
issue and everyone patiently waiting and directing people towards where the
outcome needs to be. She does not carry a big stick, at all. Some of the key pieces
are being willing to take risks. As a leader you have to be willing to try new
things, to encourage people to think differently and act differently.
Collaborate with the team and really serve in many ways more as a coach than
a boss. Encourage them give them opportunities, hold them to high
standards and high expectations but really encourage them and give them
opportunities and give them room to try and risk themselves.

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