Evergreen Recognizes DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange for Commitment to Public Service

Headshot of Cheryl Strange Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services and winner of the 2020 Joseph A. Dear Award

The Evergreen State College recognized Cheryl Strange ‘88, Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services, with the Joseph Albert Dear Distinguished Alumni Award on Saturday, October 17. The award was presented during Return to Evergreen, the college’s annual homecoming event. 

The award is named after Joe Dear ‘77, an accomplished Evergreen graduate and lifelong advocate of the college, who dedicated his life to public service.  Each year, Evergreen recognizes a graduate for this honor. Strange is the seventh outstanding alumni to receive this recognition.  

Strange, a long-time Olympia resident, has a remarkable record of service to the community through her work in public health. Throughout her career she’s served as chief executive officer of Western State Hospital, assistant director for the DSHS Mental Health Division, vice president of the behavioral health division at a privately operated mental-health service provider, assistant secretary for Health Services and as deputy secretary at the state Department of Corrections. 

“I am very honored to receive the Joseph Albert Dear Award,” said Strange. “Evergreen truly prepared me for many challenges I would face in the future. It gave me a passion for seeking out the whole truth.”  

She credits Evergreen’s unique educational model focused on “life-long service, life-long learning, authentic, challenging and hard work” for her drive to serve others.  

“Evergreen graduates are known for their drive, innovation and excellence,” said Evergreen President George Bridges. “Cheryl is no exception. Her work reflects a life-long commitment to service and drive to solve complex problems holistically and with the community in mind. We are delighted to honor her this year.” 

Learn more about the Joseph A. Dear award and past recipients.