Politics & Government

Worker's dedication to people honored

Eyes that can see past the process to the people, that's what Ann Nelson says makes her boss award-worthy.

"He's very insightful, and he has a different point of view sometimes, and it's the client - not even 'client' is a good word - it's the person," Nelson said.

Nelson and two of her co-workers nominated Carl McMinimy for the Governor's Award for Leadership in Management, which he won.

As deputy regional administration for the Department of Social and Health Services community services division in Spokane, McMinimy is Nelson's supervisor. But she doesn't apologize for nominating her boss, a 30-year state worker.

Nelson said it might be "pretty sappy and stuff," but she nominated McMinimy because of his unswerving dedication to making lives better through state service.

"He never loses sight of why we are here, which is to help individuals," she said.

In particular, McMinimy started a program in 2005 that sent DSHS workers to clinics that provide state-funded care to people without health insurance, or without much insurance coverage.

The idea helped both the patients and the clinics, Nelson said, because people walking through the doors looking for care could immediately sign up for state assistance with the state worker's help. And that way, the clinic would be reimbursed for its services, she added.

McMinimy increased the staff from fewer than 10 to 35 financial service specialists and social workers in those clinics. As a result, the department says it was reimbursed $757,000 in federal funds between July 2005 and February 2006 in the Spokane region.

But Nelson, who has worked in the department for more than 20 years, said the success of the program is only one example of the leadership and inspiration McMinimy provides. People like him, she said, remind other workers of why they got into social services in the first place.

"Working with a big agency like DSHS, it's really easy to get cynical," she said. "It's really easy to get caught up in the bureaucracy, and working with people who can see through that is very refreshing."

The Olympian is profiling each of this year's winners of the Governor's Award for Leadership in Management. The accolade has changed in the past 20 years, but it remains one of the most prestigious awards in state government.