Youth Eastside Services CEO Patti Skelton-McGougan Retires after 23 years
Youth Eastside Services (YES) Chief Executive Officer, Patti Skelton-McGougan has announced her retirement after 23 years advocating for the mental health of children, youth, and families in East King County.
Patti was first hired at YES in 1984, working for three years as an outreach counselor at the Crossroads Community Center in Bellevue. She fondly remembers wearing jeans and tennis shoes to work and talking to the kids about the issues they were facing. Ten years later, after working for the City of Bellevue as the Assistant Parks and Community Service Director, she came back to YES to serve as the CEO in 1997.
“Patti and I started this journey together as I was the Board President when she was hired,” said former YES Trustee, Linda Carson. “Patti was our lead candidate as we were looking for an individual with the ability to be the face of YES in the community, who also had strong leadership, organizational, and business skills. I had known Patti previously and was always impressed with her outgoing personality, enthusiasm, and love of helping young people.”
As CEO, Patti led years of expansion and professional growth for the organization. As the agency grew, she facilitated its transition from a small community agency, into one of the leading behavioral health organizations in King County, complete with an executive team, a highly qualified and diverse staff, and a robust Board of Trustees.
“The culture of YES has always been strong with people who have a passion for helping young people. What changed is the professionalism of the staff we hire, the training we provide, shifting to evidence-based therapy models, and the diversity of the organization,” said Patti.
Another major issue for the organization was a critical lack of space at the old Crossroads building. A few years into her role as CEO, Patti launched her first capital campaign to raise $9.7 million to fund a new, much bigger building and expansion of services. Typical of Patti, she raised $10.7 million and didn’t stop there. Over the years, she has also overseen the development of a new Kirkland office, a Redmond office, and the CrossPath Counseling center in Sammamish. This growth has allowed YES to go from touching the lives of 21,064 youth and families in 1997 to over 58,159 children, youth, and families in 2019. The age range of youth receiving YES’ services went from 13 – 18-year-olds in 1997, to birth to age 22 in 2019. It also added meeting spaces for staff trainings, client support groups, and even a specialized room for Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT).
“Patti brought an uncanny dedication toward helping our Eastside youth and their families overcome the many challenges they face daily which ultimately has saved many lives and steer countless young people in positive directions,” said Richard Wagner who has been alongside Patti on the YES Board of Trustees for the entire time she served as the CEO. “Concurrent with addressing the deepening issues that our kids face in the community, she led our Board through a challenging multi-year endeavor to replace an older, outgrown building on the Bellevue Crossroads Park site where our new building exists today.”
Upon her hire in 1997, Patti hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped. Patti says that in retirement she hopes to take a break to travel and enjoy more time with family and friends, including a granddaughter who is due in July.
““I love sitting in my office and watching people from all over the world playing with their kids in the park. I love knowing that we are all a part of this community. It grounds me, and reminds me of what’s really important in the community we live in, and how important it is for us to do what we can for all of them,” said Patti. “It has truly been an honor and privilege to serve as YES’ CEO for the past 23 years. I’m now looking forward to the next chapter and finding out how I might be able to contribute to the community in new ways.”
While YES welcomes its new Chief Executive Officer, David Downing (former YES Chief Operating Officer), Patti will serve in an advisory role through July to help ensure a smooth transition.
“While I’m humbled by the opportunity to take the stead of YES as the new CEO, it is also with a heavy heart knowing that after 14 years, I will not have her with me daily as my boss and mentor,” says incoming CEO David Downing. “She has always made me feel included, important, and ‘big’ in my contributions to the YES community, affectionately calling me her “wingman” or “copilot” and living true to it. YES, our community, the children, and families – past, present, and future – are better off because of her work and legacy. On behalf of YES, thank you, Patti – you have been the best copilot ever!”