Karen Grizzard, a longtime member of the Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services (MHDS) Board of Directors, has been honored with the top award from the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards.
The Gartlan Award, presented at the organization’s annual public policy conference Thursday, is named for the late Joseph V. Gartlan Jr., who represented Fairfax County in the Virginia Senate from 1978 to 2000. The award recognizes “the many heroes who give of their time and energy to steward long-reaching and timeless improvements in the public system and who share the leadership qualities exemplified by Senator Gartlan.”
Grizzard was a member of the Henrico Area MHDS board from 2003 to 2013 and resumed her service following her reappointment in 2016. She served as chair from 2010-11 and 2020-21 and as vice-chair from 2008-09. She also has been active with the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards since 2006. She has served as the organization’s Region 4 representative, secretary, vice-chair, chair, secretary/treasurer and first vice-chair.
“My advocacy work has never sought the spotlight,” Grizzard said. “It began with a keen desire to help my aging parents, now deceased, secure services and care for my sister Christie. Over time, through my service on the Henrico Area Community Services Board and the board of the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards, I embraced my advocacy work with vigor and determination.”
Gartlan, who died in 2008, was recognized as a champion for individuals with behavioral health, developmental disabilities and/or substance use disorders and who often lack a political voice.
“To have my name added to the list of judges, state legislators, attorneys, advocates and self-advocates to receive the prestigious Gartlan Award is a tremendous honor,” Grizzard said.
“Christie, who receives services from a community services board and a private provider, continues to lead a full life,” she added. “I share the late Senator Gartlan’s long-standing passion to seek improvements to Virginia’s mental health, intellectual disability and substance use disorders system by continuing my rock-solid advocacy.”
More information on Henrico Area MHDS and its board is online.