Bon Voyage, Stephan Ouellette!
After 15 years, many spent leading AHP programs, Stephan Ouellette, LCSW, has left AHP to manage a team at the Department of Health and Human Services in Mendocino County, close to the farmhouse he shares with his husband. Co-worker Saul Laird summed up everyone’s sentiment when he said at Stephan’s farewell gathering: “Mendocino County has no idea how lucky they are to have you.”
Saying goodbye is never easy, but Stephan’s gathering was filled with hope, warmth, and gratitude for all he has brought to AHP. Director Lori Thoemmes enumerated all the ways Stephan’s presence has benefited clients, staff, other managers, and the agency in ways that have been permanently stitched into the fabric of AHP’s culture.
Other staff attending the farewell party focused not only on Stephan’s capacities—his management instincts, his writing skills, his wisdom and insight—but also on the quality of his presence—his dry sense of humor, his support for the self-care needs of his staff, his infectiously positive attitude, his gentleness, his kindness, his hard work. Several people—Michelle Spindel and Mary Beth Reticker—tied many of these together in their memories of Stephan’s support and encouragement during difficult times of balancing AHP and non-AHP commitments and experiences.
“I have been very moved by the show of emotion and appreciation for my work here,” Stephan responded to the outpouring of gratitude from co-workers. “Departing AHP was one of the most difficult and anguished decisions I have had to make, and although I am confident the time is right for me to take a chance and move on to something new, the affection and collegiality you have all displayed makes leaving all the more difficult. AHP has been a wonderful place to work these last 15 years both professionally and personally and I wish you all success and happiness and all your pursuits. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the clients of AHP. They are in good hands.”
It seems impossible to imagine AHP without Stephan Ouellette. We all take comfort in knowing that his warmth, humor, and capacity will be well-applied to a whole new population and work group. Indeed, Mendocino County is very lucky to have him just as AHP will continue to be very lucky to have been graced by his contributions and his presence, both of which will reverberate over time.