Promoting visibility for LGBTQIA+ issues: 5 questions with Candace

Inside CHPW - June 20th, 2024

Reading Time: 4 Minute/s

Promoting visibility for LGBTQIA+ issues: 5 questions with Candace

Inside CHPW

Promoting visibility for LGBTQIA+ issues: 5 questions with Candace

Posted on June 20th, 2024 - Reading Time: 4 Minute/s

Through CHPW’s team of Regional Managers, people who live and work in dedicated Washington counties, CHPW is better positioned to collaborate with community partners, advocate for CHPW members and improve health experiences.

As a Regional Manager, Candace Hunsucker works with local community partners to support the health of CHPW members. We asked Candace a few questions so that our community can get to know her and her work.

How long have you been with Community Health Plan of Washington, and what is your current role?

I have worked at CHPW for just over five years now. My current role is Senior Regional Manager. I do both statewide and regional work within the King County Region.

What do you enjoy the most about your work at CHPW?

I enjoy getting to work on various initiatives that impact the health and well-being of our communities, including implementing new legislation, participating on boards and behavioral health workgroups, identifying gaps in care, and partnering with behavioral health providers and community-based organizations (CBOs) to improve whole-person care. I enjoy representing CHPW in the community, educating others on our health plan, and ways that we can partner to reduce disparities and advance diversity, equity, and inclusive practices. I am proud to work for a not-for profit organization that invests in the success of Community Health Centers (CHCs), CBOs, and our provider network by championing their work, partnering on aligned initiatives, and striving for continuous learning around equity and social justice issues.

 June is Pride Month, why is it important for us to promote Pride Month and create visibility for LGBTQIA+ issues?

It’s so important that institutions celebrate Pride Month and promote inclusive policies and practices year-round because there are still so many people who lack support around their identity. Hate crimes against LGBTQIA2S+ are still happening across the globe, anti-LGBTQ legislation, and other systemic forms of oppression, despite the increasing visibility of support for our community in more rural areas. The Human Rights Campaign conducted a nationwide survey in 2018, which discusses workplace issues for LGBTQ+ staff, with significant findings around staff feeling uncomfortable to come out at work, retention issues for non-inclusive workplaces, lack of enforcement of non-discrimination policies based on supervisor bias, and microaggressions including blatant jokes about LGBTQ+ people that are impacting the mental health of LGBTQ+ identified staff. More info can be found at HRC Report: A Workplace Divided.

I am proud that CHPW started an LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group (ERG), an employee-led group established to foster an inclusive, equitable, diverse, and supportive environment where all employees feel valued and respected. I am proud to be the Chair our LGBTQIA+ ERG, Community Pride, as we advocate for policy change to promote inclusive practices, partnering to advance the work of LGBTQIA+ organizations, and offering a space for the voices of our staff to influence the culture of CHPW through education and advocacy.

What is something you have recently learned or accomplished that you are proud of?

I have recently navigated having a newborn and being a working professional. These two important aspects of life are sometimes difficult to balance. I learned that some states do not offer pay for parental leave, which prevents many families from being able to bond with their newborns. It was a privilege to not only take time off, but get paid for it through our Washington State benefits. I was grateful to be able to have this time and feel supported in taking time off work.

If you have visitors from out of town, where do you like to take them to experience the Pacific Northwest?

When visitors come from out of town, I like to take them to the city to enjoy fun neighborhoods and great eateries, as well as the more rural parts of the area that offer unique experiences like farms, farmer’s markets, Leavenworth, the islands, and drives to the mountains. Many have not seen territory like ours, which is so lush and beautiful.

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