October 19, 2022
Cascadia Honors Eric C. Hunter, Representative Tawna Sanchez With Culture of Caring Awards
Award presentation will take place at Cascadia’s virtual gala October 20
Cascadia Health is recognizing two outstanding community members for their contributions to our community with its Culture of Caring Awards. This year’s award honorees are Eric C. Hunter, president and CEO of CareOregon, and Tawna Sanchez, state representative for Oregon’s 43rd district. Both Sanchez and Hunter will be recognized at Cascadia Health’s virtual Culture of Caring gala on October 20 at 6 p.m.
Health & Housing Award: Eric C. Hunter
Eric C. Hunter, president and CEO of CareOregon, is being recognized with the Culture of Caring Health & Housing award. Hunter’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic helped ensure that Oregonians continued to receive the services they needed despite the challenges created by the pandemic.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Eric proved his commitment to providing the highest standards of care for those most in need of support,” said Derald Walker, Cascadia Health’s President and CEO. “Eric’s leadership and focus on providing comprehensive health care to all Oregonians is aligned with Cascadia’s whole health care mission.”
With more than 25 years of leadership experience in the health care field, Hunter has a deep knowledge of Medicaid policy, Medicare plan administration, commercial plans and the integration of physical and behavioral health care. He has served as CEO of CareOregon for six years.
“What inspires me every day is simply knowing that folks need us to do this work,” Hunter said. “My life has always been OK. I’ve had a good life: strong parents, good family, communities that supported me, great education, never wanting for anything. That is not the case for everyone. And so knowing that I have the ability now to let others have those same opportunities, live those same lives—that inspires me every day. There is nothing more important.”
Hunter highlighted the partnership between Cascadia and CareOregon, and the overlap between the organizations’ missions.
“CareOregon and Cascadia Health have been sort of interwoven for a long time. Because at our cores, our missions are based on helping people lead strong healthy lives, and to support our communities that way,” Hunter said. “So when we do that, we say, let’s look beyond the necessary right now. Let’s think about long-term solutions. Let’s think about ways in which we can work together.”
Civic Engagement Award: Representative Tawna Sanchez
Tawna Sanchez, state representative for Oregon’s 43rd district, is being recognized with the Civic Engagement Award. Sanchez is a committed advocate for behavioral health care, and she was instrumental in providing more than $500 million for mental health services in Oregon in 2022.
“Representative Sanchez’s commitment to reducing disparities and strengthening our social safety net has made a profound difference in the lives of countless Oregonians,” Walker said.
Sanchez was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2017, representing North and Northeast Portland. She also serves as director of family services of the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA).
“Every day that we see humans struggle with something—that’s what influences me. That’s what drives me to try to change something,” Sanchez said. “We’re not doing enough upfront to actually deal with the issue before it becomes an issue. And that’s been my push the entire time coming into the legislature. Let’s look at this from the upriver approach.”
When looking to the future, Sanchez said, “I have every intention of continuing to work toward the goal of supporting communities and helping people be better. Putting the safety net back in place, and plugging up some of the holes.”
About the Culture of Caring Awards
Cascadia has given Culture of Caring Awards since its inaugural gala in 2017. The awards recognize community members for their contributions and vital roles in strengthening our community’s social, physical, cultural and emotional well-being.
Past Culture of Caring honorees include the late activist Rev. Dr. T. Allen Bethel, President and CEO of Volunteers of America Kay Toran, musician Darrell Grant, pioneering psychologists Dr. Joseph Matarazzo and the late Dr. Ruth Matarazzo, p:ear Executive Director Beth Burns, artist Jeremy Okai Davis, and civil servant Erika Preuitt.
About the Culture of Caring Gala
Cascadia’s virtual Culture of Caring Gala will steam live October 20 at 6 p.m. The gala is open to the community and free to attend. Learn more at cascadiahealth.org/gala2022.
Comcast Business is serving as the presenting sponsor for the 2022 gala. “Cascadia Health has been a customer of ours for 12 years and we are truly gratified that we have been able to provide the tools to support their growth all these years,” said Rikki Wright, Director of Marketing for Comcast Business. “Our relationship goes beyond being a solutions provider: we share in their efforts in building a more compassionate community.”