Mayor Murray announces homelessness and public health hires

Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced the appointment of James R. Theofelis as the Special Advisor on Homelessness and Jeffrey Sakuma as Health Integration Strategic Advisor. James and Jeffrey will officially begin August 12, 2015. These two newly created positions will be housed in the Human Services Department.

“The number of unsheltered homeless people in Seattle has rising dramatically in the past several years,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “As we stand up additional shelter beds and permitted encampments, Jim’s leadership in the non-profit sector will be instrumental in bringing more faith-based and community partners to our effort to support people in crisis.”

Theofelis will provide strategic leadership to the department and the city in efforts to align strategy and resources to address and end homelessness. He was founder and executive director of Mockingbird Society, an advocacy organization dedicated to address the needs of homeless youth and young adults. Under Jim’s leadership, the Mockingbird Society was instrumental in building a statewide coalition of youth advocates who were successful in passing legislative changes to improve access to services for our most vulnerable young people. Theofelis will earn $125,000 per year.

“The City and King County enjoy a strong collaboration on public health,” said Murray. “Jeff will help us build on that history to improve delivery of mental health and addiction services, access to nutrition and support for childhood immunization.”

Sakuma will guide the $14 million investment of City funds for Behavioral & Public Health services provided by Public Health – Seattle & King County. He will be responsible for analyzing, coordinating and driving health and mental health policy for the City. Jeff has had an extensive career in healthcare, most recently at Group Health, where he served in various roles including the director for Medicaid and subsidized programs. Sakuma will earn $110,000 per year.

The Seattle Human Services Department is one of the largest contributors to Seattle’s safety net as it provides $99 million in funding through 522 contracts to nearly 200 agencies that support Seattle’s most vulnerable residents each year. The department works closely with its community partners, including other public and nonprofit funders and service providers, to understand current and emerging human service needs, and to create and invest in a comprehensive and integrated regional human services system.