When Michael Willen, art therapist, was growing up in Boulder, Colorado during the 1990s, he heard lots of talk about accepting those who were different from you. Reality, however, often didn’t align with the talk.
“You couldn’t be openly gay or talk about something like being transgender,” he recalls. “I wanted a community to connect with, but I didn’t have that resource until I went to college. I wondered why we couldn’t have more of that.”
These days, Michael is helping build an open, accepting community for students at the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center and inpatients at Seattle Children’s. His crowning achievement is Diversity Club, a class at the Alyssa Burnett Center that celebrates diversity and helps students become advocates for equity.
For these reasons, Michael recently received the 2021 Odessa Brown Ken Feldman Award, one of Seattle Children’s highest honors, which recognizes individuals or teams that encourage, promote, and display compassion and advocacy for all people.
The Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic helped establish this award in 2006 to recognize individuals and teams that, beyond their formal job description, model diversity, inclusion, and quality care with dignity. A committee administers the award every year.
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