For the Reporter
The American Medical Association (AMA) presented Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus with the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service at a Feb. 13 ceremony in Washington, D.C., part of the AMA’s National Advocacy Conference.
Backus was honored for her work in the Outstanding Public Servant at the Local Level category.
Backus was one of six honorees chosen to receive the award, which is named for the founding father of the AMA and recognizes elected and career officials in federal, state or municipal service whose outstanding contributions have promoted the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health.
“A fearless leader who has tackled head-on the challenges that too many elected officials avoid, Mayor Backus has made a name for herself advocating for the underserved and marginalized,” said AMA Board Chair Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. “A highly respected public servant, she is known for bringing together local, regional and national leaders to develop solutions that benefit the people of Auburn and can serve as a blueprint for other communities.”
Since her election in 2013, Backus has led the development of programs to improve the overall health of the Auburn community, focusing her attention on the challenges of homelessness and drug addiction. She is the co-convener of the King County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force, and One Table, a regional initiative focused on tackling the issues of homelessness and housing affordability.
Backus serves on the board of All Home, a regional board committed to making homelessness rare, brief and one-time. In 2015, she convened Auburn’s Task Force on Homelessness to develop strategies to address homelessness in Auburn, and in 2016 formed the Blue Ribbon Committee for Auburn – The Healthiest City in Washington-2020. Among their accomplishments is Real Emergency Aid Depends on You (READY), a one-hour course on mental health designed to increase awareness, eliminate stigma and teach basic skills to use during a mental health crisis.
“We are all about collaboration, the best form of leadership,” Backus said of community-wide efforts to improve overall health. “There are … more major health issues in Auburn, and we are committed to improving each and every one.”
Dr. Steve Anderson, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, attended the event with the mayor.
“(The event) was powerfully impressive,” Anderson said, adding the mayor “knocked it out of the park” with her acceptance speech.
Backus is a graduate of Green River College and City University of Seattle.
For more information, visit ama-assn.org.