In the spirit of our mission to promote collaborative problem solving in Washington County, Vision Action Network itself was borne out of a collaborative process.
At the turn of the new millennium, Washington County had experienced two decades of explosive population and employment growth, trends that were putting a strain on county resources. The Board of Commissioners reached out to 100 community leaders and discovered that despite the economic boom, many basic needs of Washington County residents were not being met. And on top of that, there was no real sense of community.
From these initial conversations, the Board launched VisionWest, a county-wide effort to create a shared vision for the future. In doing so, the County acknowledged its dependence on a collaborative partnership between government, nonprofits, faith groups, business, and citizen advocates to meet the growing needs of its residents.
VisionWest engaged nearly 2,000 people and involved 200 focus groups over the span of nearly a year. During that time, participants recommended strategies to address critical needs under broad priority areas, such as housing, education, behavioral health, and aging and disabilities. There was also consensus that a champion was needed with no other mission than to impartially convene stakeholders across sectors and facilitate a collaborative process in response to complex, critical issues the community faced.
In March 2001, Vision Action Network was incorporated to be that champion.
As an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, VAN convenes, facilitates, catalyzes, and incubates collaborative initiatives in Washington County. Over the years, VAN has become a trusted partner in Washington County, convening stakeholders on a variety of issues and facilitating a diverse array of initiatives. While not focused on any one issue, VAN embraces equity as a driving force behind our work, inspired by the belief that we are better together.