As part of LifeWorks NW’s 60th Anniversary Celebration, we are highlighting just a few of the many valued leaders who have shaped our organization and our community.
Ebony Clarke began her post-graduate career at LifeWorks NW (then known as Tualatin Valley Centers) in 2001. (Editor’s Note: At the time of writing, Clark was Multnomah County’s Interim Health Department Director. In January 2023, she was named head of the Behavioral Health Division of the Oregon Health Authority.)
“I was hired as a family therapist as part of Leo Ni Leo (Swahili meaning ‘today is the day’), a dual diagnosis program for African-American youth. Within a year, I had become a supervisor and in 2008 it had become the REAL Recovery, Empowerment, and Achievement in Life,” says Ebony.
“Ebony was an important part of LifeWorks NW’s growth and development,” says Katy Beveridge, vice president, Operations. “She was involved with the establishment of REAL, Project Network’s growth and LifeWorks NW’s role in offering culturally specific services. She helped us change our mission to include culturally responsive services, and was a key leader in all these efforts. And a fun note: her mom joined us to work in our Project for Community Recovery program, a culturally focused adult addiction program for the black community.”
“Back then, our community was experiencing significant problems with gun violence,” says Ebony. “There was significant meaning in being part of an array of services that was truly committed to the community. Mary [Monnat] and Mark [Lewinsohn] understood the importance of centering services around the voice of the community. I was impressed that they intentionally were striving to not reinforce systemic racism and gentrification. I felt inspired and empowered as a black clinician and budding black leader to bring forward our traditional ways of healing. The community trusted the agency and appreciated it.”
And according to Mary, Ebony had a key role in supporting LifeWorks NW’s community growth.
“She leads with deep compassion and a firm commitment to building a more just, equitable and inclusive community,” says Mary.
Ebony also helped expand on our efforts to strengthen our culturally supportive programs when she hired Francesca Barnett, who is now senior program director for Project Network.
“I recall hiring Francesca for the REAL program and then later Project Network,” says Ebony. “These programs were about saving lives and doing real work. Again the Black community is so close-knit. It was inspiring to be a part of women and their children’s journey to wellness. There were storms, and we always got through it and came out on the other side. Look at that program now, what it is doing in the original heart of the black community. Never a dull moment. I remember Mary always saying, ‘Don’t be a sponge, you got to wring it out.'”
“Ebony is an incredible leader,” says Mary. “She inspires others and greatly advanced our cultural responsiveness then and now! LifeWorks NW is forever grateful for her many contributions here and far beyond.”
“I also want to say that Mary has meant a lot to me, and I think that I got my start because of Tualatin Valley Centers [now LifeWorks NW],” says Ebony. “I was able to learn and grow and give back to not only the community but to staff and clinicians coming behind me. That is a value that I see Mary, Mark, Katy [Beveridge] really living out. I appreciated that I could be who I was, show up in my skin and be supported with compassion. I wouldn’t be who and where I am if it wasn’t for my start at LifeWorks NW.”