After moving to the area approximately two months ago to begin my role as the Director of Coconino County Health and Human Services, I’ve learned a few things about my new home. For example, I’ve learned that there is no shame in being winded after taking a flight of stairs while acclimating to our 7,000-foot evaluation! I’ve learned not to drive on Milton during the morning commute. I’ve learned the definition of a monsoon, that 50 mile-per-hour winds are possible, and that the mountain views and night skies are breathtaking. Among these and other useful lessons, I’ve also learned that Coconino County has much to offer and I am excited to be a part of this community.
My name is Thomas Pristow. Previously, I served as the deputy commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services where I oversaw operations for the state’s Child Welfare, Medicaid eligibility, Homelessness, Child Support, Behavioral Health, Child Support and Public Health that encompassed more than 3,000 staff members and a $2.3 billion budget. That position, and other previous roles with state and county Health and Human Services departments, provided me with a great respect for the important work involved in strengthening the health, safety and well-being of the community and for the people committed to providing these needed services.
The opportunity to move to Arizona and to join the Coconino County team was unexpected. I applaud Coconino County Human Resources for their innovative and compelling job posting that focused on emotional intelligence, department integration and staff development. It caught my attention and kept me up at night. After much consideration, my wife and I, and our four canine companions, decided that we should embark on this adventure. We are so excited to make Arizona and this community our home.
In my new position, I lead the recently formed Coconino County Health and Human Services (CCHHS) department, which merged the Public Health Services District, Community Services and the Career Center. I’m honored to work with our team to reimagine service delivery in the integrated department. Together, we are evaluating new, innovative approaches that will improve systems to meet measurable outcomes for our community. We are also exploring service delivery efficiencies and working to identify new ways to serve Coconino County’s most vulnerable populations.
I’ve introduced the following five principles to staff, which will guide our work. These values have served me well throughout my career:
– Staff are supported and have a say in how they do their job.
– We pay our bills on time and come in on budget.
– We have programs that work and know why they work.
– We develop the best outcome-based, citizen-centric services in the country.
– We treat each other with respect and kindness.
I look forward to working with county leadership and our amazing CCHHS team and to meeting with community partners to learn more about our community, their work and collaborative opportunities. FBN
By Thomas Pristow
Thomas Pristow is the director and chief health officer of Coconino County Health and Human Services.