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Terri Card ’83 leads with care as COO of outpatient operations for MultiCare Behavioral Health

Terri Card ’83 leads with care as COO of outpatient operations for MultiCare Behavioral Health

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Teri Card smiles into the camera in the lobby of her office building. Above her head a quote painted on the wall reads "Cultural understanding as we walk the path to Recovery"

Image: Terri Card in her office at Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare in Lakewood. (photos by John Froschauer/PLU)

April 18, 2022
By Zach Powers ’10
PLU Marketing & Communications

Terri Card ’83 doesn’t just care about people. She cares about caring for people when they need it most. Card is the chief operating officer of outpatient operations for MultiCare Behavioral Health, but says she’s still a clinician and care provider at heart. That might be because she spent most of her 43-year career in mental health doing just that – providing care.

“I always tell people if you’re looking for a role model for a rapid rise up into leadership, don’t look at me, don’t look at my career,” Card says with a laugh. “I just did slow and steady and I have always put in more hours, worked harder, listened to people and tried to learn everything I could.”

Card, who earned a MA in psychological counseling from PLU in 1983, began her career on the ‘in-patient’ side of behavioral health as a mental health tech and then counselor. She then moved to adult crisis response, working on a team that would dispatch all over the community. “I was working at night, walking into dangerous situations that we would never allow anybody into these days,” she remembers.

Card didn’t enter the field with aspirations of going into management, but she was identified by her peers and organizational heads as a dedicated and high-capacity leader and was named vice president of clinical services and COO of Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare in 1998. She enrolled in the Master’s in Health Administration program at Chapman University and graduated in 2005. In 2012, she was named President and CEO of Greater Lakes. In 2018, when Greater Lakes merged with MultiCare, she was named to her current position.

A logo for PLU's Lute Powered story series. Lute Powered is hand written in black below a hand-drawn half sun

As COO of outpatient operations for MultiCare Behavioral Health, Card oversees the outpatient operations of MultiCare Behavioral Health, Greater Lakes and Navos. She’s still passionate about clinical work, and admits there are days she misses the gritty, heartfelt work of client care. However, she understands how her current role has a substantive impact on the quality of the mental health services her organization provides. 

“I take a lot of pride in developing leaders below me,” Card says. “If I can ensure that they are respectful and compassionate towards people with mental illness or mental health challenges; if I can organize the work and create a structure that is responsive to the community needs; and if I can do right by the organization, community, and the staff –  to me, that’s enormously satisfying.”

Card relies on her experience in the field to inform her decisions behind-the-scenes, and says that her role is one part behavioral health expert and one part senior administrator. “Right now, it’s probably 30/70, with 30 percent of my work being focused on behavioral health, thinking about challenges directly related to things like mental health or substance abuse disorder treatment,” she says. “Then the other 70 percent is focussed on administration, infrastructure, systems, etc.”

Teri Card in the lobby of her office building looking up at the photographer on a balcony.

Be it clinical care or management, Card says behavior health is a sector where caring is a prerequisite. “You shouldn’t get into the field if you don’t care about human beings,” she says. “It’s required for treating clients and it’s required for supervising clinicians.”

“I believe in servant leadership, and that has guided this stage of my leadership career,” she concludes. “You shouldn’t go into management to get ahead or to make more money. You should go in because you wish to be of service. If you’re the boss, you darn well better care about people.”

Lute Powered is a new series highlighting PLU alumni at some of the most well-known organizations in the Puget Sound region. Terri Card ’83 is the first of three Lutes that will be featured from Multicare Health System. 

Teri Card sits at her desk in her office looking over a document