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Savi Van Sluytman awarded Lamoille Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Non-Profit Leader of the Year

Savi Van Sluytman (left) and Jennifer Stratton, LCMHS Development Services Director.

We are thrilled to announce that our very own Savi Van Sluytman has been awarded the Lamoille Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Non-Profit Leader of the Year!

Savi was nominated for this award because of her determination to bring together cohesive systems to create quality and comprehensive care for all families.   Her dedication to the people of the Lamoille Valley spans over a decade and as CEO of Lamoille County Mental Health Services (LCMHS) she leads 275 employees to make it possible for everyone in our region to live productive, self-directed lives. 

In her tenure at LCMHS, Savi restructured the management team and brought forth a vision of all-agency unity, in the face of a difficult fiscal climate and structural resistance.  When faced with a space that was too small for their needs that came with a staggering rent, Savi advocated to make a strategic capital investment by buying the property at 72 Harrel Street that now houses a majority of the staff and services at LCMHS.  When the estimates to renovate the new building came in way over budget, Savi decided to take matters into her own hands and became the general contractor of the project herself—still while maintaining her full time work as then-CFO at the agency.     

Savi has grown the majority of her leadership team from within the agency, and thus they have the perspective of numerous positions and the populations they serve.  Savi has consistently supported the professional development of her current senior leadership team and this vision of professional growth has an impact on all of the agency’s staff.  Despite the large and geographically diffuse staff, Savi is always seeking to ensure that everyone is considered when organizing events and worksite wellness challenges.  She knows that there is a huge benefit to cross-department conversations among staff and she seeks to bring folks together for whenever possible to build community among staff.

Recognizing that strong leaders must take risks to make great change, Savi tirelessly strives for improving the community that LCMHS serves.  This year she has taken a leadership role in developing a unified electronic medical records system across Vermont’s community mental health system. 

Another project she has championed is the Tiny House Project, which would build four, roughly 500 square foot “tiny houses” that would support a one-year transition to independent living for people with mental health and developmental disabilities.  Seeing the potential of a vacant lot that is adjacent to the Oasis House, a residential crisis stabilization program in Hyde Park, Savi is tenaciously working toward making independence a reality for people who need just a little help to get there. 

Several employees who are parents of autistic children approached Savi with the idea of creating an “imagination center”—a community-accessible sensory room and gathering space for children with autism and their families.  Savi has identified space on the property that can be dedicated to the imagination center, and is working with the parent group to secure grant funding for the project.   

Savi also knows that a healthy and emotionally-nurtured employee has more longevity in their job.  When they take good care of themselves, they are able to better support the people in their care.  It is noteworthy to mention how dedicated the staff at LCMHS are to doing incredibly difficult work in often stressful crisis situations.  The staff is family centric, so while an eight year old child might be the one who came to us for care, we often wrap the entire family in support to ensure better outcomes not only for the eight year old, but for his parents and siblings as well.   

Savi Van Sluytman is an exemplary leader in an organization that is a major employer in our county.  She works closely with a group of CEOS in Lamoille County, sharing opportunities and helping each other to better care for our community and state.  It is this kind of collaborative leadership that makes Vermont the best place in the nation to live, work and raise a family. 

LCMHS is a collaborative community mental health designated agency providing comprehensive therapeutic-based mental health, developmental, behavioral, and family support services to the Lamoille Valley.  Much of our work happens in the communities where our consumers live—in their homes, in their schools, in their child care programs, in their jobs.  Savi knows that the best path to health and wellness is the one that ensures a full, meaningful life.  A steady job, success in school, strong relationships and good friends, good nutrition and healthy exercise, feeling the sun on our faces and clean, fresh air in our lungs.  

Savi's Acceptance Speech

"Thank you so much, Jennifer, for your kind and generous remarks. I am humbled and honored to be given this award, and I am accepting it today on behalf of the amazing team of mental health professionals, counselors, and administrative staff at LCMHS - they are the real winners. My deep appreciation goes to the people who nominated me and to the Lamoille Chamber of Commerce for granting me this award of excellence.

I am just a part of a well-oiled machine - one that consists of exceptional staff, board members and community partners. Our staff is invested in making positive changes in people's lives. They are dedicated to providing pathways to mental wellness and emotional security, helping people with developmental disabilities live productive and self-directed lives, and who are helping our neighbors loosen the grip that substance abuse wields.

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have a board of directors, both past and present, that have provided their unflagging support throughout my tenure at LCMHS. I want to thank them for their wisdom, support, generosity and for believing in me.

Last but not least I would like to thank my family for their unwavering love and support.

Thank you"

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