06-13-12: Psychotherapist wins with Community Leadership Award
06-13-12: Psychotherapist wins with Community Leadership Award

Damian Gennette, a psychotherapist with MultiCare’s Employee Assistance Program, is this year’s recipient of the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) Community Leadership Award.

The award recognizes community members or groups in recognition of their outstanding contributions to education.

WASA announced the award in April at the organization’s regional meeting in Fife. This month, school district officials will present Gennette with the WASA plaque and certificate.

Gennette has worked closely with the school district’s Human Resources Department since he started the job three years ago. The Employee Assistance Program provides confidential employee counseling and referral services and also supports employees during crises.

The Puyallup School District is among the largest of the many south Puget Sound businesses and organizations that contract with the Employee Assistance Program, Gennette said.

Gennette coordinates a team of therapists and also works directly with clients out of the program’s Puyallup office on Pioneer Avenue. He is also often invited to lead workshops, speak at workplace retreats, and give other community presentations.

In addition to counseling individuals about their well-being, families, and jobs, the Employee Assistance Program helps the school district’s Crisis Support Team as needed during events such as the death of a staff member or student. A team of school counselors and a school psychologist make up the district’s Crisis Support Team.

This past year, Gennette and his colleagues helped support district staff members in several crisis situations, such as the death in January of a Carson Elementary first grader and his younger brother.

“He has partnered with the Puyallup School District for many years, but this year he was invaluable in helping our staff cope and grieve for their colleagues and students,” said Human Resources Director Amie Brandmire.

What happens in someone’s personal life can have a direct effect on how that individual functions on the job, Gennette said.

“It’s important being able to support teachers and principals as they support the students and each other,” he said. “We work behind the scenes to make sure employees’ mental health needs are adequately addressed so they can be productive at work.”

Gennette said it is an honor to receive the WASA award for the program’s work with the Puyallup School District. “I am grateful,” he said. “It motivates me to continue to improve what I do.”