Human Services Director named Director of the Year
Arapahoe County Commissioners Nancy Jackson and Nancy Sharpe were honored by their peers for their distinguished public service careers while Human Services Director Cheryl Ternes took home the Director of the Year award at the Colorado Counties, Inc. annual awards dinner, Dec. 13, 2022.
Commission Chair Nancy Jackson received the Distinguished Service Award, which honors her 12-year tenure as an elected official. It’s the top honor awarded from the nonprofit association, which includes elected officials from across the state. She was lauded for promoting effective policies and good governance, providing a steadfast voice for constituents, and advocating for the greater good within the region and beyond. Jackson is term limited and ends her service as commissioner in January.
Jackson is best known for her work to improve access to behavioral health services, addressing homelessness, encouraging entrepreneurship and workforce development, and advancing strategies to reform the criminal justice system and maintain public safety. Some highlights:
- She established the first countywide homelessness committee.
- Created a behavioral health subcommittee within the County’s justice coordinating committee to advance a supportive housing project for justice-involved individuals.
- Took a leadership role in the County’s efforts to establish its own public health department following the break-up of Tri-County Health. Jackson is currently serving a term on the Foundational Board of Health.
- Recently, the commissioner advanced the development of a formal relationship between the County and its tribal namesake, signing an historic Memorandum of Agreement with the Northern Arapaho and furthering the County’s equity, diversity and inclusion efforts.
“Nancy brings a compassionate and steady voice to decision-making, promoting effective policies that maintain and improve County services despite existing budget constraints,” said Commissioner Carrie Warren-Gully. “She has been a tremendous leader within our County and Colorado, using her collegial and collaborative spirit to find pragmatic policy solutions to improve county government.”
Human Services directors from around Colorado honored Commissioner Nancy Sharpe for her work advancing health and human services programs. In her 12-years as commissioner, Sharpe has served on local and state committees, including:
- National Association of Counties, Human Services and Education Steering Committee
- Colorado Counties, Inc, Health and Human Services Steering Committee
- Governor Appointee, Colorado Executive Leadership Council on Child Welfare, the Works Allocation and Child Welfare Allocation Committees
- Colorado Elder Abuse Taskforce, Governor’s Appointee
“Commissioner Sharpe has been a tremendous voice for the most vulnerable in our community,” said Commissioner Jeff Baker. “Her passion is helping others and ensuring the health and safety of all our residents. She’s a born strategist and used her political acumen to establish programs and services that help end the cycle of poverty and create new opportunities for children and families.”
Cheryl Ternes was named the Human Servicers Director of the Year, honored for helping ensure the well-being, self-sufficiency and safety of individuals, families and communities in Arapahoe County and throughout the state.
Ternes’ nominators lauded her efforts during and after the pandemic when faced with significant staff shortages, she led the department’s Child and Adult Protection Services (CAPS) through an aggressive plan to improve recruitment and retention. The work better supported frontline caseworkers who were faced with high workloads, stress and low morale.
Recently, Ternes provided guidance and leadership for the distribution of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding as well as American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and ensured that funds reached families and individuals in need of emergency housing, food and essential services during the pandemic. She also opened special grant opportunities for local nonprofits and businesses to receive financial aid during the pandemic to meet the demands of the public in need of shelter, food and protective equipment.
“Cheryl is a visionary and innovative leader who brings transformational ideas into reality by motivating the people around her. Her influence has saved lives and created joy for countless children and families. The Board sees the impact of her work every single day,” said Commissioner Nancy Sharpe.
Colorado Counties, Inc. is a nonprofit membership association which provides assistance to county commissioners, mayors and council members and to encourage counties to work together on common issues. Members from across the state helped select the award winners.