Amanda Guay works to protect the most vulnerable.
Amanda “Mandy” Guay is committed to improving public health. As director of community health at North Country HealthCare, Guay is recognized as the organization’s lead public health champion who protects vulnerable populations by securing resources for Northern Arizonans. In her role, she oversees and develops community health and behavioral health programming for specific target populations. Those who work with her say she has attracted millions of dollars in grants to the region and brought integrated behavioral health to rural communities.
“Amanda’s public health knowledge, professionalism, passion and ability to bring groups and organizations together for the good of the community is like no other,” said North Country’s Marketing and Development Director Tammy Howell. “She is simply unmatched when it comes to facilitating and building collaborations to care for the underserved. She has been instrumental in establishing health care for our homeless population as well as establishing integrated healthcare systems within behavioral healthcare facilities across six Northern Arizona counties.”
Guay shares a number of inspirational stories about community teams that have been enabled to answer community needs through grants.
“I can’t do what I do without the teams in the community doing what they do,” said Guay. “We do home-visits for maternal and child health populations to help them adjust to having a new baby. We have medical case managers going to the Navajo Reservation to people’s homes to make sure they have support and to address any barriers to medical care. We have community health workers in Flagstaff who secured a washer and dryer for a family with a number of kids and a baby on the way and made sure a young mother had money for a security deposit to move into a home and out of a hotel before they welcomed a new baby.”
During the pandemic, Guay became a comfort to those around her while helping others in the region. “We have all had to go with the ups and downs of COVID-19,” said North Country’s Behavioral Health Integration Manager Jose Jonathan Benitez. “Working at a Federally Qualified Health Center, we have been at the center of care for our communities. Beyond having more than a half dozen community programs under her, Amanda has been a warm presence in the clinic for staff. You see her with that smile, which can’t be hidden under a mask.”
Guay explains how health promotion teams helped create hand-washing stations for the Navajo Nation at the beginning of the pandemic. “They worked with Flagstaff’s Artisan Metal Works, which created hand washing stations like you’d use on a river trip and delivered them to a number of families on the reservation who didn’t have a way to wash their hands with clean water,” she said. “I think a million times over, the way that these teams are empowered to raise heaven and earth for a positive family outcome, that’s when I feel I’m in the right field.”
Guay also is credited with helping to establish school-based and employer-based healthcare programs. And, sheltering low-income residents is another one of her passions. She has been on the board of directors for Housing Solutions of Northern Arizona since 2010, and served as both president and vice president, providing leadership, strategic planning direction and support to the organization’s leadership staff.
“Mandy has invested in making sure our community has safe, decent and affordable housing,” stated Devonna McLaughlin, CEO for Housing Solutions of Northern Arizona. “Under her leadership, the Housing Solutions organization has expanded to offer permanent affordable rental housing options, increased capacity at Sharon Manor Transitional Housing facility and increased resources for down payment and closing cost assistance.”
Born and raised in Flagstaff, Guay attended Flagstaff High School and grew up admiring her parents, Ann and Joe Guay, who nurtured her interests in health care and education. “My mom was a public health nurse at Coconino County Health Department. She also worked for Northland Hospice and the Fronske Health Center on the NAU campus. I loved what she was doing. My dad was an educator who worked at Coconino High School. What I chose to do in my career really stemmed from them, their values and how they saw the world.”
Today, Guay has more than 20 years of experience working with minority and underserved populations. Before joining North Country, she worked with affected communities in efforts to mitigate health impacts of environmental contamination at the state health department in Oregon.
Guay holds a master’s degree in public health promotion and education with an emphasis in women’s and minority health from Oregon State University, a master’s degree in business administration from Louisiana State University Shreveport and a certificate of completion from the UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Executive Program.
Last month, she received the Flagstaff ATHENA Award at the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting in February. Guay was nominated by the leadership team at North Country HealthCare.
“For 33 years, the Greater Flagstaff Chamber has chosen to invest in the spirit of the ATHENA awards as a way to recognize individuals who might otherwise go unnoticed for the passion and dedication they bring to the workplace and community at large,” said Chamber President and CEO Julie Pastrick. “The spirit of the awards is based on leadership tenets, which have become the foundation of enlightened and successful leadership. They are: Live Authentically, Learn Constantly, Advocate Fiercely, Act Courageously, Foster Collaboration, Build Relationships, Give Back and Celebrate. Our 2022 ATHENA recipient Amanda Guay is a shining example of these best practices and for many of us, they really resonate with how we should live our lives!”
“I was both completely shocked and utterly honored at the same time,” said Guay. “All the individuals who contributed to the nomination showed me such support and honored me in such a beautiful way. It not only makes me feel so grateful for what I get to do every day, I feel more bound to the community of Flagstaff because of all the wonderful people, team members, non-profits and small businesses that make up the texture of this special community.”
I love walking on local Flagstaff trails and also going to Flagstaff Athletic Club. I can be found doing all the exercise classes.
Words of Wisdom
Somebody told me once to give of your treasures – your time, your money, your energy – and I feel like doing that for just causes has really deepened relationships for me.
I was very much impacted by the two leaders of North Country HealthCare, Ann Roggenbuck and Anne Newland, because of their commitment to community health across Northern Arizona. I’m also influenced by community leaders such as Nat White, Brenda Silveus, Devonna McLaughlin and the late Jim Babbitt.
You’ll find me sitting on the patio at Dark Sky Brewing Co., eating a veganara pizza from Pizzicletta and enjoying an IPA.
Hobby I Hope to Pursue
I would love to do a bike tour. One of those river barge supported bike tours in France sounds lovely! FBN
By Bonnie Stevens, FBN