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Chief Executive Officer, Lakewood, WA

Western State Hospital


Lakewood, WA

June 27, 2018


Western State Hospital (WSH) is an inpatient psychiatric hospital that is certified by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. With 857 beds and 2,500 employees, WSH is one of two state psychiatric hospitals in Washington State. WSH is located in the city of Lakewood, Washington, which is seven miles south of Tacoma.

WSH provides evaluation and inpatient treatment for individuals with serious or long-term mental illness. Patients are referred to the hospital through their Behavioral Health Organization, the civil court system when individuals meet the criteria for involuntary treatment or through the criminal justice system.

Governor Inslee recently announced that he will pursue a five-year plan to modernize and transform the State’s mental health system. He will be working with legislators to expedite efforts to end civil patient placements at the State’s large hospitals by 2023 in favor of smaller community-based facilities that are primarily State-run with some community hospital capacity throughout the State. Western State Hospital will continue to focus on serving forensic and certain hard-to-place civil commitment patients.


Western State Hospital is owned and operated by the State of Washington under the administration of the Department of Social and Health Services. The CEO is responsible for the overall strategic direction and oversight of WSH. The hospital operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The hospital has a total of 29 wards in the following three Centers:

  • Center for Forensic Services – Bed capacity of 285 and is made up of 10 wards.
  • Psychiatric Treatment and Recovery Center – Bed capacity of 557 and is made up of 20 wards which included Central, South Hall and East Campus
  • Habilitation Mental Health – Bed capacity of 30 and is made up of two wards. The wards house patients that are dually diagnosed with a mental illness and a developmental disability.

The CEO plans, organizes, directs, controls and evaluates all hospital programs and activities to assure delivery of the highest quality physical and behavioral health care. The CEO, in coordination with the Assistant Secretary and Secretary of DSHS establishes policy for the hospital.

The CEO also manages and directs the function of WSH wards to ensure accreditation with the Centers for Medicaid/Medicare Services.

Principal responsibilities include:

  • Leading a diverse community of patients, staff and providers to meet the hospital’s mission to provide high quality healthcare in a safe setting.
  • Ensuring effective Hospital operation and delivering of healthcare services.
  • Recruiting, retaining, supporting and evaluating hospital employees.
  • Promoting quality of healthcare—to include development, monitoring and response to key program indicators.
  • Collaborating with system partners to implement the Governor’s vision for Behavioral Health transformation and healthcare integration.
  • Building, supporting and evaluating a team that meets the strategic, operational and programmatic goals approved by the Governing Body and fulfills the mission, vision and core values of the Hospital.
  • Ensuring prudent management of Hospital resources within biennial budget appropriations and budget guidelines and according to current laws and regulations.
  • Representing the Administration to Federal agencies, the Governor, State Legislature, public and private agencies.
  • Facilitating the coordination of the hospital services with local hospitals, other state mental health hospitals, community mental health programs and Behavioral Health Organizations.
  • Overseeing hospital accreditation, licensure and quality standards.
  • Promoting quality and cost effective outcomes through effective planning and utilization of resources.
  • Developing and maintaining working relationships key stakeholders such as public safety organizations; state and local government officials; courts; prosecutors; defense counsel; advocacy organizations; local colleges and universities, community agencies.

Live and Work in a Great State

Washington State offers a total work/life package of pay, benefits, flexibility and workplace opportunities to help you get the most out of your career and out of life. Washington State is a great place to work, play, and be a part of a community. Washington offers a quality of life that is unsurpassed. From the high- energy urban center of Seattle, one of the nation’s top-ranked cities, to the more relaxed pace of our rural communities, Washington’s distinctive Northwest lifestyle blends a progressive, creative culture with a casual nature.

The position is located in Lakewood, Washington. Incorporated in 1996, Lakewood is the second-largest city in Pierce County and the 18th-largest in the state of Washington. It is the host community to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the largest joint base on the West Coast and one of the largest in the U.S. Lakewood is strategically located along the Interstate 5 corridor. It borders JBLM, Camp Murray (home to the Washington National Guard) and Tacoma, and is situated a short drive from Seattle and Olympia. Lakewood also is a hub for activity at the Ports of Tacoma, Olympia and Seattle. Mount Rainier and the rugged Cascade Mountains provide majestic scenery to the east while Washington’s Pacific Coast is just an hour’s drive to the west. Lakewood enjoys the benefits of an engaged and educated community and a well-supported school system.


Successful candidates will have a bachelor’s degree and a least 7 years progressively responsible human services hospital management experience in a large, complex and highly represented organization.


For this important role DSHS seeks a credible, unifying leader who is deeply committed to the success of the hospital and is a strategic big-picture thinker. The CEO will model, promote and ensure that the Hospital’s mission, vision and core values are evident and present in the provision of quality healthcare.

The CEO should be:

  • Patient focused—embraces the standard of the patient being the center of decisions
  • Collaborative—committed to inviting participation in the evaluation and planning of all major initiatives; works to build consensus and alignment
  • An achiever—seeks achievement beyond standard expectations; with a sense of urgency the CEO fosters an environment that drives to continuous improvement beyond minimum compliance. The CEO is dynamic, enthusiastic and energetic in the pursuit of personal and organizational goals; approaches challenges as opportunities for improvement.
  • Of strong character—honest and straight-forward, given to transparency and full disclosure; respectful of others’ feelings and perspectives; able to maintain the highest level of integrity and create confidence even within those with doubts; can quickly and easily address questions of morals or ethics to guide decision making.
  • Courageous—Although mindful of organizational and political structure, the CEO must be able to remain focused on doing the right thing in alignment with the core values of the hospital, administration and department, even in the face of strong opposition; not afraid to speak directly; comfortable in presenting a full and accurate picture of any situation.
  • A superior communicator-- the CEO must be a master of communication—both verbal and written, and have the ability to have courageous conversations. The CEO must be able to communicate clearly and eloquently in order to effectively function in any setting—from a meeting with government officials to a hallway conversation with employees to a productive meeting with a patient’s family.
  • Decisive—Have conviction, based on well thought-out analysis; is able to pull upon diverse past experiences to craft novel and innovative solutions.
  • Visionary—The CEO can take the organization to the next step in its structure, scope, performance and quality improvement; has the ability to stay ahead of the game by anticipating demands and constraints within the evolving industry and ever-changing environment and be able to utilize available resources to maximize the hospital’s continued success
  • Astute—The CEO is bright and is intellectually capable of mastering the complexities of leading this Hospital; having the business and financial acumen to analyze, comprehend, select and implement innovative solutions and models for the delivery of healthcare to lead the hospital to short-term and long-term success.
  • Persuasive—Clear and consistent in the delivery of the message of the Hospital, Administration and Department Mission, Vision and Values. Can present a strong business case for a distinct direction while demonstrating empathy for contrasting views; maintains a truly good sense of humor as a person who enjoys the work.
  • An advocate—The CEO is a champion of the hospital, Administration and Department—internally and externally; speaks effectively to clarify and build support for the Hospital in our community and in the larger arena of healthcare delivery.
  • A change artist—The CEO sponsors, champions and facilitates change throughout the organization to meet the challenges of the evolving environment of healthcare delivery.
  • Resilient and stable—Able to manage multiple priorities and demands; is a model of responsiveness from the administrative suite that is flexible, yet predictable and reliable that will reinforce trust even in times of divergent opinion.
  • Visible—The CEO has a style that creates the expectation of regular contact and interaction among staff; regularly rounds throughout the organization and among patients.

Application Process

Persons interested in this position must submit a cover letter and a current resume to either or via our website

If you have questions regarding this announcement, please call Marissa Karras at 360-956-1336. The position will remain open until filled but the selection process will move quickly. The salary is competitive. In order to be considered for the first round of interviews please submit your application materials as soon as possible. Previous applicants need not re-apply.

The State of Washington is an equal opportunity employer and is strongly committed to enhancing the diversity of its workforce. We will provide assistance in the recruitment, application and selection process to applicants with disabilities who request such assistance.

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