Henriksen: A leader in transformational community change

It is an honor to join in the nomination of Nan Henriksen for high recognition as the 2015 First Citizen of Southwest Washington.

Camas’ former mayor is a visionary who has led enduring, transformational community change. She has made a positive imprint on land-use planning in Washington State. Over the decades, Nan has lived qualities of character which are a precious inspiration to others.

Beginning as a council member some three decades ago, Nan saw the importance of good planning. She saw the value of a “big picture, long term” view of Camas’ preferred future. She wanted Camas to build on its good base, to remain a “special place,” and to diversify and strengthen its economy and community.

Growth would come, with the building of the I-205 bridge, and Nan was committed to the notion that Camas could give form and shape to the growth.

She was elected mayor in 1983, and drove relentlessly for the achievement of a community vision of a prosperous, diverse, livable city. She stayed with it, and brought Camas’ councils, staff and community along with her in supporting, sustaining and executing the vision. The city and Southwest Washington became the home to premier employers such as Sharp, Underwriters Laboratories, Linear Technology, WaferTech and many others. The population grew, and the people prospered.

Guided by the vision and plans, the community enhanced its livability. The schools, parks, open spaces, library, infrastructure and public services are admired by residents and visitors alike.

As a sign of outside recognition, Camas was named one of the best medium sized communities in America (ranked No. 63 among the top 100 U.S. cities with populations between 7,500 and 50,000 in a 2007 by Money Magazine). More recently, Family Circle magazine ranked the City of Camas in the top 10 nationally. The vision continues to drive the further development of Camas, and the visionary was Mayor Henriksen.

Nan’s skills, leadership and achievements were recognized by statewide groups and leaders. In 1989-90, she served as the president of the Association of Washington Cities. Her abilities and accomplishments in planning were noticed and she served on a vital committee which formed the legislative initiative which became the Growth Management Act.

In 1992, Gov. Booth Gardner appointed Nan to the Western Washington Growth Management Appeals Board. This was a high honor, and could also be seen as a next version of what some call “the hair shirt of public responsibility.” She served with distinction on the board through 2004.

As one of three western Washington board members, Nan had a major role and authorship in rulings which will influence land use in Washington for years. Her beliefs in the primary role of local government in land use decisions and the value of thoughtful, balanced long-range planning marked her decade of active board achievement.

I have known Nan since 1989. I worked for her, she and I have kept in communication over the years with our common interests in Camas, local government, the community center and similar topics. Her character is sterling, and has great qualities. They include decency, civility humor, honesty, respect for others, determination and enormous drive.

Perhaps her renowned and remarked upon lapse — occasional impatience — is actually quite positive in public life. I remember early on reading the license plate on her car; the letters spelled out “Nan–Now.” I learned the “Now” was for unneeded emphasis.

Of all her many fine qualities, courageous, hopeful resilience, is the most inspirational to me. We all have set-backs, perhaps in our work life, sometimes in the complexity of our relationships, over the years with health. For me, Nan has been a personal example of undaunted courage, inspiring hope and resilience.

It is an honor to participate in the nomination of Nan Henriksen for First Citizen.

She is so worthy of recognition for visionary community service and exemplary character. Let this prophet again be honored in her own land.

Lloyd Halverson retired as Camas city administrator in 2013, following a 23-year career. He was one of 16 people who submitted letters nominating Henriksen for Clark County First Citizen. She will be presented with the award on Oct. 20.