An East Coast transplant has replaced the long-time executive director for a local organization that provides services to residents from Coleville to Olancha and beyond.
Effective Sept. 5, Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action, Inc. welcomed its new executive director Lynn Ann Bethel, said Administration Services Manager Jill Paydon for IMACA Human Resources.
Bethel comes to IMACA from Massachusetts where she simultaneously served as director of Oral Health for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and adjunct assistant professor at Mount Ida College. “Her many years of management and leadership experience and the ability to initiate and facilitate community partnerships and collaborations will assist IMACA in moving forward as the agency continues to sustain and grow programs to serve income-eligible residents in both Inyo and Mono counties,” said Paydon.
Bethel said, “From a professional standpoint, (this is) an opportunity to expand my professional goals and work with others to make a greater impact on improving the lives of people.” Bethel is working with former IMACA Executive Director Daniel Steinhagen during a transitional period, in which they are collaborating on policy issues, key initiatives and ongoing projects, explained Paydon.
Steinhagen had served as IMACA’s executive director for almost 20 years. Paydon said, “He helped move IMACA from its early years of struggling with services and program funding to find the right niche to serve communities throughout Inyo and Mono counties. (He) provided stability and long-time direction. And, his knowledge of federal statutes regarding funding for community-action programs like IMACA’s is invaluable.”
Therefore, though Steinhagen announced his plans to retire beginning in June 2011, finding a suitable replacement had taken longer than anticipated. “We believe the wait has been worth it. Our confidence in Lynn Bethel’s abilities has inspired a level of optimism at the agency as we take our organization into the future, while staying true to our mission … to empower low-income people, to advocate for their needs and to find and maintain a healthy lifestyle by breaking the cycle of poverty,” said Paydon.
As executive director, Bethel’s duties are to interface with the IMACA board of directors, facilitating their vision for IMACA’s community-action goals and overseeing programs so that they manifest those goals, said Paydon.
Bethel explained that her goals “include sustaining and strengthening the partnerships that IMACA has developed over Mr. Steinhagen’s tenure as executive director, as
well as building new partnerships and collaborations. Throughout my career I have focused on improving the health of vulnerable populations.
“IMACA focuses its efforts on the social determinants of health, food security, housing, weatherization and heating, education and family support, etc. One of my goals,” continued Bethel, “is to partner with other established organizations, agencies, institutions and businesses in both Inyo and Mono counties and, working together, improve (residents’ lives) on the whole.“
For example, said Bethel, “IMACA could partner with agencies focused on the prevention and management of chronic diseases, as diabetes and heart disease, by promoting and providing guidance for residents to build and manage their own garden to expand their access to fresh vegetables.
“We could partner with agencies serving seniors to ensure that when an older individual is released from the hospital they are coming back to a home that is weatherized and heated. This may even decrease the prevalence of repeated hospital stays or their having to move all together,” Bethel said.
Bethel is taking on a wide variety of programs that cover a wide geographical territory, said Paydon. For example, IMACA’s USDA food commodities distribution servicing communities from Coleville in northern Mono County to Shoshone-Tecopa in the southeastern edge of inyo county outside of Death Valley, said Paydon. Then there are the Head Start programs; numerous community gardens which provide fresh produce to supplement the commodities; the Eastern Sierra Youth Conservation Corps employment and career development program; and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and weatherization measures program which supplement low-income homes’ energy costs and seal and otherwise fortify homes against the Eastern Sierra’s extreme climate conditions.
Bethel said, “From a professional standpoint, (this is) an opportunity to expand my professional goals and work with others to make a greater impact on improving the lives of people.” On a personal note, Bethel has two adult children, both in college in Boston. Her daughter attends Wheelock College and is completing a dual degree in Elementary Education and Psychology and Human Development. Bethel’s son, an Art Institute of Boston freshman, is contemplating a dual degree in Photography and Art Education, the executive director said.
“Many people comment that this move was ‘huge,’, but … I was ready to make a change in my life; and who wouldn’t want to move to a place where your drive each day to work is filled with panoramic scenery that many people in this country will never experience in their lifetime,” she said.