Diamond Anniversary Celebration: Honoring Dr. Harriet Hall
A big part of Jefferson Center’s history has been under the leadership of Dr. Harriet Hall. And for that reason, we honored her for her 36 years of dedication, commitment, and leadership.
Although Harriet will be stepping down as the President and CEO of Jefferson Center this summer, she will continue to help guide our work through the end of the year, and she will always remain a community leader. Using her talent and vision to benefit the community is a part of her character that will never retire.
When Harriet was recognized last month by the West Chamber and welcomed into its Hall of Fame, Jefferson County Commissioner Casey Tighe remarked:
“You can’t tell the story of Jefferson County without a chapter on Harriet Hall. Some people say Harriet seems to be a step ahead of everybody else. Harriet has a vision and ability to respond to changing circumstances like nobody I’ve ever seen. Under her leadership, Jefferson Center has grown into being such a positive organization in Jefferson County. She dealt with some difficult times during the Columbine tragedy.
With Harriet’s leadership, Jefferson Center learned how to provide services to a community that was hurting and going through a difficult time.”
And Commissioner Tighe is exactly right.
Within hours after the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School, under Harriet’s leadership, Jefferson Center mobilized resources and helped lead the mental health crisis response. She was on the phone with the school Superintendent asking how she could help. Harriet said we will be there…and she was. And so were our other staff. In fact, Harriet made sure that we were there for the community for the next 3 years. She didn’t hesitate for a minute. To this day she is consulted as an expert. Just last month she travelled to Washington DC to present to mental health leaders from across the country the help others better respond to community tragedy and help them heal.
Dr. Harriet Hall’s most substantial contribution to the community has been her advocacy and her unwavering commitment to making a difference in the lives of people with mental health disorders, their families and our community.
As one of the Jefferson Center’s employees once noted, Harriet “seems to have her finger on the pulse of what is to come.”
Another staff member recently wrote: “I so admire our CEO, one of the strongest and brightest women in our field. She is frequently called upon by those in our community for expertise, opinion and guidance. I am continually in awe of her span of influence and respect.”
There is no one who is more passionate about helping our community.
Her passion and tireless efforts have impacted the lives of thousands of individuals living with mental illness. She has worked to reduce the stigma of mental illness, brought the public’s attention to urgent matters of mental health, and collaborated with government and business leaders to produce innovative changes for mental health care. Harriet’s strong value for collaboration has created community partnerships that resulted in significant change in the community and the birth of innovative programs.
Harriet’s staff has always had a hard time keeping up with her. It seems like she was always light years ahead of them. Harriet saw changes to the healthcare landscape coming long before anyone else, and she started preparing the Center to be successful in that new environment. Harriet has led the fight for a vulnerable population….people with mental illness in the criminal justice system. She has testified at hearings, worked with lawmakers and law enforcement and served on Governor Commissions.
Many years ago, when the state budgets were cut, many providers were faced with layoffs and creating a waiting list. Not Harriet. She made it clear that Jefferson Centers’ doors were open to all in need.
Harriet took a stand when she said “Jefferson Center will not turn anyone away. We will figure out ways to be innovative and ways to stretch resources. We aren’t going to turn away even one person who needs our help.”
Most recently, when Arapahoe House closed their doors, Harriet stepped up once again to preserve substance use services, which are absolutely critical for our community.
No one in need is going to be turned away on Harriet’s watch.
Doyle Forrestal, Executive Director of the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council told us:
“Harriet has been a mentor and inspiration. She tackles problems head on with a calm and reassuring tenacity that reminds you that our cause is noble, and the people in our communities deserve our very best. She is the very best and we have been so lucky to have her here in Colorado fighting the good fight every day.”
I think we would all agree with that!