Raising Up Racial Equity

Many black skin African American men women children seniors group hand raised high

Hopefully, you are aware that this e-newsletter—AgeWise King County—is published by the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services. I chair the Advisory Council. In addition, I hope you have at least a fundamental knowledge of the work that Aging and Disability Services (ADS), the Area Agency on Aging does throughout King County. If you need to know ADS North Star Lead with Race, Center Community, Stronger Togethermore, I encourage you to visit to learn more.

The reason I’m hopeful is that I want to invite you to provide input on the ADS Vision, Mission, and Values statements that will be incorporated into the agency’s next four-year Area Plan—a document required by the State of Washington that charts a course for planning, coordinating, advocating, and providing a comprehensive service delivery system for older people, adults with disabilities, and family caregivers. See the related article about the Area Plan 2024–2027 in this issue of AgeWise.

ADS director Mary Mitchell received a 2023 Aging Achievement Award at the USAging conference in July 2023.

ADS Director Mary Mitchell accepted a USAging 2023 Aging Achievement Award from national president Mary Ann Spanos and event sponsors from and Cumulus.

This year, in addition to preparing a four-year plan, ADS is revising it’s Mission and Values, and adding a Vision statement, and ensuring alignment with its commitment to racial equity. Two years ago, ADS staff created a set of internal agreements to help guide constructive conversations about race, along with a North Star: “Lead with Race | Center Community | Stronger Together.”

In July, ADS received national recognition for leading with race when they received a 2023 Aging Achievement Award from USAging at a conference of Area Agencies on Aging from across the country. At the same conference, ADS Director Mary Mitchell, Executive Assistant Lena Tebeau, and HSD Communications Manager Irene Stewart shared their experience with colleagues from around the country by presenting a workshop called “Race: Let’s Talk About It” that was standing room only and received very favorable feedback.

ADS Vision, Mission & Values Survey

Let us know what you think. Click on the image above to open the survey link (MS Forms). The deadline is 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31.

With the ADS North Star and wealth of experience in mind, the agency is hoping to ground what matters most in a new Vision statement and updated Mission and Vision statements. You can help. Please visit ADS Vision, Mission & Values – Survey #2 (a Forms survey) and let us know what you think.

Kudos to ADS Director Mary Mitchell and her staff for shining a light on racial equity. You may know the saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Keeping racial equity in the forefront of the aging services network means equity, dignity, and respect for all older people, adults with disabilities, and families, across the board. It means ensuring that people who need ADS services get ADS services. It doesn’t take away from anybody; rather, it builds community.

Joe HaileyContributor Joe Hailey chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services. He welcomes input from readers via e-mail (

This article originally appeared in the August 2023 issue of AgeWise King County.