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Meet New YES CEO David W. Downing

Lidia Harding
Agency news Staff Spotlight
david w downing

From the 2020 Spring printed newsletter

As outgoing YES Chief Executive Officer Patti Skelton-McGougan bid us farewell on May 1 after 23 years advocating for the mental health of the East King County community, we are thrilled to welcome David W. Downing as YES’ new CEO! David has served as YES’ Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the past 14 years and has exemplified excellent leadership not only for YES but also within our community.

David is both a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Child Mental Health Specialist, with over 25 years of leadership in the non-profit sector. David holds a Certificate in Fundraising Management from the University of Washington, and a Master’s degree in Psychology from Seattle Pacific University.

Over the past several years, David has led the shift in YES’ behavioral health services from a traditional supportive listening model to one grounded in evidence-based practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). He has focused on removing barriers to behavioral health services through strong partnerships with local school districts, as well as launching YES’ Open Access which provides same-day treatment. He also oversaw the integration of psychiatric services adding psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and psychiatric guidance and collaboration on treatment. Most recently, due to the COVID-19 health crisis, David led the transition of YES services to a TeleHealth virtual platform, helping to ensure continued access and continuity of care.

David’s 14 years as COO has given him a depth of knowledge about our organization, the mental health industry, and the needs of our community’s children, youth, and families. Though David gives a lot of credit to his education and professional experience, he says he’s learned far more from his personal journey of recovery, his role as a parent, and in his work as a therapist and community volunteer.

“The work we do at YES — our mission — is personal to me. Many of the things we help young people overcome, I had in my own history as a child and teen. I remember some adults rather than reaching out to help, making negative assumptions about my struggles. But I also distinctly remember the adults who challenged those negative stigmas. I still vividly remember the specific conversations that inspired positive change in my life. It’s not an accident that I am the CEO of YES, and I bring my story with me every day to this work,” said David.

YES has been most impactful using evidence-based practices, and partnering closely with our community and school partners. David hopes to continue working within the East King County community to promote bigger system changes to improve mental wellness for our youth. His priority as the new CEO will be strengthening our support of parents and ensuring the future of our critical services and programs by leveraging tools such as an endowment.

“I come to this new role with a great deal of gratitude and humility and feel privileged to be trusted to lead YES into the next decade. While I don’t expect to get this all perfect, I will work every day with our community and staff, focused on the mission and striving to always keep YES the most relevant and impactful resource for our children, youth, and families.”

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