Avista Promotes Jason Thackston

HSSA's Board Chair Jason Thackston has been appointed to Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy and Clean Energy Officer, as Avista Corp announced several executive appointments. CEO Dennis Vermillion said, "I could not be more excited to announce these appointments. These individuals are transformative leaders who know Avista and the utility industry inside and out. I have the utmost confidence in their abilities and firmly believe this change will benefit Avista's employees, customers and other stakeholders in numerous ways."

HSSA Executive Director Ashe to Retire

HSSA Executive Director Ashe to Retire

Replacement Search Begins Immediately

Spokane, WA – The Health Sciences and Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County announced that its long-time Executive Director Susan Ashe will retire this year. A committee has been formed to begin the search for HSSA’s next Executive Director. Former Board Chair Nancy Isserlis will lead the search committee, and more details about the position and process are forthcoming.

“The HSSA board is grateful for Susan’s incredible commitment to our greater Spokane community,” said Jason Thackston, HSSA Board Chair. “Her contributions to Spokane are numerous throughout her career in both private and public local organizations, and the Spokane community has been served well. Susan has set a strong foundation for HSSA as we seek an Executive Director who will continue that great work.”

Ashe, the founder and CEO of Ashe Public Affairs, was hired following a consultancy as an “Acting” Executive Director when the HSSA was created by the state and county and formed in early 2009. She established the organization in the community and created its initial health sciences research programs and process for grants, the first of which were issued in May 2009. In 2012, after a public search, Ashe was hired as Executive Director. Ashe led the reauthorization of the HSSA by the Washington Legislature in 2019 for an additional 15 years beginning in 2023.

During her tenure, HSSA invested over $8 million in research and infrastructure grant investments in Spokane County. Additionally, HSSA has invested nearly $4 million in its annual “Access to Care” grants to promote public health, including public health during early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. HSSA has created hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, assisted bringing to Spokane millions of dollars of extramural grant funding, and created over $100 million in total economic activity. In addition, HSSA assists start-up health and life sciences companies with grant-writing funds.

Susan Ashe served Spokane in major public affairs positions over 45 years, including at Kaiser Aluminum for 24 years as Regional Public Affairs Manager. In addition to government affairs, Ashe provided strategic communications and media activities related to the company’s operations in the region. She successfully led a community team to ensure the EPA’s proposed PM-10 air quality non-attainment proposal recognized the impact of airborne dust from west of the city that saved millions of dollars and improved air quality, northwest energy matters, day-to-day communications/media support to the three major plants in Spokane and Tacoma, and during a two-year labor dispute.

In 2003, Ashe was hired by then Mayor John Powers to serve in his administration in government and public affairs. She served four mayors – Powers, West, Hession and Verner -- over nearly six years. Notable accomplishments include passing a $117 million street bond to address Spokane’s street maintenance needs at that time, and raising nearly $125 million in state and federal grants for many projects in the community, including completing the Monroe and Freya streets bridge repairs, Fish Lake Trail, movement of Trent Avenue through the University District and renaming it Spokane Falls Boulevard, funding the extension of gigapop high-speed broadband from Seattle to Spokane, and design money for the new pedestrian bridge connecting WSU property on the main campus over the railroad to the southside where the Catalyst Building and other valuable projects have developed.

Questions about the HSSA Executive Director position may be referred to Susan Ashe at susan@hssaspokane.org. Additional information from the Search Committee will be forthcoming.

HSSA Board members include Jason Thackston, Board Chair, Senior VP Energy Resources, Avista Corp.; Carla Cicero, President/CEO, Numerica Credit Union; Daryll DeWald, Ph.D, VP WSU Health Sciences and Chancellor, WSU Spokane; Allison Glasunow, Ph,D & Attorney, Director, Patent Counsel, Sana Biotechnology Inc.; Kevin Oldenburg, Ph.D. CEO/President, 2nd Sight Bioscience; Darryl Potyk, M.D., UW/GU Regional Director of Medical Education; David J. Vachon, Ph.D, CEO/Founder, Iasis Molecular Sciences, Francisco Velazquez, M.D., Director, Spokane Regional Health District, and Mike Wilson, Consultant and former Providence Health CEO.

Iasis Molecular Sciences Awarded $1.25 Million for Antimicrobial Catheter

Local company Iasis Molecular Sciences Corporation (ISMC) has been awarded $1.25 Million by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program's Spinal Cord Injury Research Program.

The grant will allow Iasis to manufacture and validate Iasis' novel composite silicone rubber catheter for regulatory submission. The catheter is wholly antimicrobial (tip, balloon, main body) which sets it apart from today's products that rely on antimicrobial coatings, said David Vachon, ISMC CEO.

This funding aligns with and extends the development of IMSC's model materials platform and complements recent awards from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at NIH ($225,000) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ($225,000). HSSA also has provided financial grants to Iasis.

HSSA Awards 7 Local Organizations Nearly $325,000 in Access to Care Grants

The Health Sciences and Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County has announced the organizations who will receive $324,865 in total grants in 2022 for the important access to health care work they do. HSSA said it received well over $750,000 in grant requests for its annual Access to Care grants.

The Community Health Association of Spokane (CHAS) will receive a $50,000 grant from HSSA for its new “Street Medicine” program. campus in a neighborhood where no dentists currently provide services.

Daybreak Services of Spokane will receive $23,000 to help fund its Restorative Receiving Center for sexually exploited youth who are victims of sex trafficking, childhood prostitution and other related crimes.

Partners with Families and Children will receive $85,000 in 2022 to help it continue to meet the growing needs of found at its Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) where our community’s most vulnerable population, children who are victims of physical and/or sexual abuse, receive services.

HSSA will grant Pioneer Human Services $20,000 to address mounting substance abuse in Spokane County at its Pioneer Center East facility in downtown. Spokane County has twice the methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths as King County with five times more populace, Pioneer claims.

Providence Health Care Foundation will receive $86,865 to fund a mid-level primary family nurse for homeless adolescents for one year.

Spokane Prescription Assistance Network will receive $30,000. It is one of the most cost-effective programs HSSA funds with a 27 to 1 return on investment.

Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition was awarded $30,000 to help fund expansion of the SRDVC’s education and services to 13 school districts in the region.

“HSSA’s mission includes increasing access to care through innovative and collaborative health care delivery in Spokane, in addition to funding scientific research and infrastructure to grow the life sciences industry in the County” saidJason Thackston, HSSA Board Chair.

HSSA’s grant competition helps to meet one of its strategic goals to increase access to health services in Spokane County for at risk populations and represents a fund of about 15 percent of annual revenues designated for this purpose.

“To date we have awarded over $2.9 million in this category, providing resources to those organizations in our County who do the important work with people who might otherwise not receive health care services, and HSSA’s Access to Care grant program also helps decrease costs while improving health care services,” Thackston said.

HSSA’s other strategic initiative is to increase local health sciences research and the infrastructure that supports it and designates 75 percent of its revenues for that purpose. In the latter case, the grants are open year-round for proposals at any time, and HSSA has invested over $6 million in health science research and infrastructure grants to date. HSSA was successful in achieving reauthorization for 15 years in the last legislative session, thanks to local legislative leadership and local partners, Thackston said.

Together with its Access to Care grants, the organization estimates that it has created over 500 jobs and over $100 million in total economic activity. This includes well over $35 million in extramural federal grant funding to Spokane. More information about all HSSA grants may be found at www.hssaspokane.org.

HSSA Seeks Consultant Accountant/Bookkeeper

HSSA is seeking a part-time consultant Accountant/Bookkeeper to handle its accounting, payroll and financial reports needs. The HSSA's funds sit in the Spokane County Investment Pool (SCIP) from which HSSA draws its funds for grants payable and operating expenses.

HSSA was established in 2017 for 15 years by the Washington State Legislature and authorized to operate in Spokane County. The Legislature reauthorized HSSA for an additional 15 years beginning next year. Its mission is to invest in health sciences research to promote economic development, and public health.

If you are interested, please send your resume to susan@hssaspokane.org.


HSSA Announces Board Vacancy

The Health Sciences and Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County has announced one vacancy on its nine-person Board of Directors. The position will be appointed by the Governor of the State of Washington. The Governor’s Office has its own application process as https://www.governor.wa.gov/boards-commissions at which candidates may apply.

The HSSA Board seeks individuals to fill these vacancies preferably with professional life/health sciences experiences in the private sector and/or academia. Experience successfully starting and operating health/life sciences businesses is preferred, not mandatory. The HSSA Board meets quarterly.

HSSA Board members service four-year terms. When the term expires there is an opportunity to serve additional terms.

HSSA has invested approximately $8 million to date in research and infrastructure in Spokane County. It also has invested about $3.7 million in its annual “Access to Care” grants to promote public health, including public health during the Covid pandemic. It has created hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, assisted bringing to Spokane millions of dollars of extramural grant funding, and over $100 million in total economic activity. HSSA was reauthorized by the Washington Legislature for an additional 15 years, and Governor Jay Inslee signed the legislation.

Questions about this Board vacancy may be directed to the HSSA Executive Director at susan@hssapokane.org. Interested candidates must apply directly to the Governor’s Office at Boards and Commissions.

HSSA Announces up to $325,000 Available in "Access to Care" Annual Grants

The Health Sciences and Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County has announced its annual “Access to Care” grant competition for non-profit and other organizations open for its 2022 grants. This grant competition seeks applicants who provide innovative and efficient health service delivery that increases access to health care for at-risk populations.

The HSSA 2022 Access to Care Grant Competition will award up to $325,000 for one or more grants that durably increase the efficiency and efficacy of health delivery in Spokane County that measurably increases access to care for certain populations.

“HSSA invests in annual Access to Care grants to promote public health, which is included in its legislative authority and mission in this annual request for proposals,” said Jason Thackston, HSSA Board Chair. “We have committed $2.7 million to these Access to Care programs to date, and we fund these grants from about 15 percent of our annual revenues,” he said.

Here are key dates related to HSSA’s 2022 Access to Care grants:

RFP posted at: October 15, 2021

Letter of Intent due by noon: October 29, 2021

Final Proposal due by 4PM: November 15, 2021

Awards Announced: December 20, 2021

Some past recipients have included a successful program by Catholic Charities’ and the Empire Health Foundation called “Rising Strong”; Partners with Families and Children; Volunteers of America’s “Hot Spotters”; Spokane Prescription Assistance Network; Spokane Neighborhood Action Plan (SPAN); Priority Spokane; Northeast Community Center’s Medical and Dental operations and youth counseling; Pioneer Human Services; YWCA mental health initiative, CHAS East Central Dental, Providence Dental NE operatories, and others.

Applicants should submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) on the HSSA website at www.hssaspokane.org under the Grants tab. HSSA will provide a link to successful Applicants to use to submit a Final Proposal. HSSA will coordinate with Applicants directly, if required. If the LOI is selected, a Final Proposal is due by 4 pm. November 15, 2021. In this Final Proposal, Applicants who have previously been funded by HSSA should list positive major outcomes from previous grants.

HSSA is credited with bringing over $35 million in extramural grants to the Spokane region as every $1 of National Institutes for Health (NIH) funding accounts for another $1, creating $70 million alone by 2019 in economic activity. HSSA has invested about $5.8 million in research and infrastructure grants, and over $2.5 million in Access to Care grants, for a total direct investment of $8 million. The organization has contributed to date to well over $100 million, an exciting return on investment.

HSSA Board Meets Oct. 12, 2021 at 8 AM

HSSA's Board will meet in a "special" board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 at 8 AM via zoom. The meeting is considered "special" as the board was unable to meet at its regularly scheduled meeting in September. This meeting will be conducted via Zoom and anyone wishing to attend should contact susan@hssaspokane.org. The meeting Agenda may be found elsewhere on this site.

LSW East West Summit Goes Virtual

The annual Life Science Washington East West Summit that is usually hosted in Spokane is now a virtual event in September 9th. This is due to covid variant increases statewide and in Spokane County. You will want to register and will receive your information to connect the week prior to the event. This is an exciting event with wonderful panels and and a terrific keynote speaker.