Deeanne Matz, longtime assistant to SMH’s chief executive officers, retired from SMH in mid-September after 20 years in her position. Such longevity is a rarity these days. Yet Deeanne remained dedicated to a job that required a unique combination of organizational proficiency, trustworthiness, strong communications skills, innate tact and abundant resourcefulness. For everything she has done for SMH and the community, we thank her for her 21 years of service with our organization.
When Deeanne began working at SMH in 1996, she served as administrative assistant. Over the ensuing two decades, she served in many roles, growing along with SMH. In her ultimate position, Deeanne became executive assistant to President and CEO Patrick C. Evans.
“Deeanne has played a vital role here at SMH, helping the organization run smoothly,” said CEO Evans of her contributions. “Her level of organizational knowledge is impressive and it helped me transition into my role as Chief Executive. I am appreciative of her support to me and to the organization.”
In her role as executive assistant to the president and CEO, her primary duties included providing administrative support not only to Patrick, but to SMH’s Board of Directors as well. She coordinated meetings and took minutes in addition to serving as the liaison between Evans, the Board, and SMH’s staff. Perhaps as important as her specific duties, Deeanne served as a repository of SMH institutional history. With her connections throughout the agency – “There are lots and lots of people I’ve known through the years” – she was an invaluable source of continuity as SMH grew and evolved.
Deeanne notes that her role was not always “flashy or dramatic,” but that she was privy to a great deal of sensitive material, and feels proud that she was critical in handling this confidential information with the appropriate levels of professionalism. Matz also succeeded in anticipating peoples’ needs, so their jobs were seamless and without complication, by giving timely reminders and keeping lines of communication open.
“My job was to make other people’s jobs easier. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you’re probably not the right person for this job,” she chuckles.
What kept Matz engaged through her years at SMH was that her duties varied. “I had to learn a bunch of different things.” Trained to be a teacher, with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and teaching, Matz became an executive assistant in 1986 after some time in the classroom. Her learning experiences at SMH included on-the-job web site development, serving in Development, event management, and donor database construction.
Though she had many adventures during her decades with SMH, Deeanne’s fondest memories come when she recalls helping with our fundraiser, Mental Health Matters. Once, with no chief development officer available to lead, she, Marketing and PR Director Steve McLean, and former CEO David R. Stone planned and executed the entire event. Partnering with 45 staff volunteers and their spouses, that event hosted more than 500 people and raised more money than in previous years.
Matz recalls that “People gave selflessly.”
Looking back at her time with SMH, Deeanne is modest when describing her impact on the lives of our clients.
“Calls would come in to me for the CEO – desperate calls – when I was able to actually listen, and to make a connection with one of our staff who could help.” She goes on to praise the work of SMH clinical staff. “They do so much,” she says. “With huge caseloads, they devote their lives to our clients.”
As she prepares for her next chapter, Deeanne shares “How blessed I feel to have spent most of my career at SMH, and to spend time with such a wonderful group of people.”
She has pledged to stay in touch, yet knows she will miss the day-to-day interaction with colleagues who have become good friends.
Looking toward the future, Deeanne and her husband Francesco Federici happily anticipate continuing their work with Old Dog Haven, a nonprofit group that uses a network of foster homes to provide loving, safe, final homes for abandoned senior dogs in western Washington. Matz serves on the organization’s Board of Directors and manages their web site as well.
Though it’s been 20 years, it seems like only a short time ago that Deeanne came through our doors. Over the years, her professionalism, dedication to staff, executives, and our clients as well as her ability to quietly keep the organization running smoothly, are assets that will be sorely missed. SMH wishes Deeanne only the best in the next chapter of her life. We will remember her helpful, compassionate, selfless personality and her efficient, positive attitude.