Catherine Lester

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Catherine Lester


Senior Associate, Annie E. Casey Foundation


Seattle, WA


As the Director of the Seattle Human Services Department, Catherine Lester oversees the Seattle’s $89 million annual investment in 200 agencies that support our City’s most vulnerable residents. She has been the architect and driver of the Department’s effort to make contracting decisions based on data and results.

Lester previously served as Acting Director of HSD from 2013-2014, and Deputy Director from 2011-2013. Prior to coming to Seattle, Lester was Director of Cuyahoga Tapestry System of Care at Cuyahoga County’s Office of Health and Human Services in Ohio. During her time as director, more families in distress were helped and fewer children entered the child welfare system. She put in place a new Continuous Quality Improvement process, enabling the county to improve services offered by its human service providers. Lester has a Master’s of Science degree in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Ryerson University. She was a 2013-2014 Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Families Fellow, a nationally-recognized leadership development program focused on systemic changes to improve the lives of children and families in the United States.

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