meet the board Jonathan Westendorf
Our newest board member, Franklin Fire Chief Jonathan Westendorf, officially joined in December 2019. Here, Westendorf offers his perspective on being a board member and work to better the community.
I was fortunate enough to marry my best friend Betsy in 1996 after meeting a few years earlier while working together at Kings Island. By then I had started my work in Fire & EMS, and she was working toward a career teaching young children in the classroom. We have two beautiful daughters, Cayden who ironically is working in the same positions we held and pursuing an interpreters license in American Sign Language, and Kyndal who is studying psychology for adolescents at Ohio University. I joined the city of Franklin as Fire Chief in September 2000.
Since joining the department, I have been afforded some wonderful opportunities. Pursuing a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California was a highlight. The educational journey and resultant exposure to so many talented individuals across this great nation helped broaden my understanding of how all of these systems work together. The opioid epidemic really began to expand in our community at time where Franklin had just began providing Emergency Medical Services, and I was able to witness firsthand the impact this was having on our community, and our responders. I knew we could, and should do more.
Helping Overdose through Prevention and Education (HOPE) was born from a realization that substance use was significantly impacting our community in far more ways than increased rates of overdose. I asked Lt. Katherine Williams to join my effort and we got to work. The more I learned, the more I realized that ‘we’ had an important role to play. Significant gaps existed and HOPE needed to build a bridge so we could reach them where they were at. Project HOPE continued to expand, and we continued to learn more. Since 2016, when this idea first began, I’ve continued to keep studying and learning. I am currently enrolled in a Doctoral program at West Chester University (Pennsylvania) where I continue to find ways to help government better serve its citizens.
As the newest board member, I know there is much to learn. My hope is to better understand the unique needs of Warren and Clinton County. I am looking forward to gaining a better understanding of the services offered to our community by our providers. I have had the fortunate chance to work alongside some of these dedicated and caring professionals though my work with HOPE. But I know there is much more to learn and I am excited for that opportunity. I value people people. I want to better understand what we can do to better serve our community while remaining fiscally responsible. I am focused on supporting people along their journey. That support includes helping those who are not familiar with mental health and recovery issues to better understand what they can do to help our community and why those matters are important to society.
I believe dialog mutually provides opportunities to learn and gain understanding. I am grateful for this opportunity to serve our community in a new way. I am also hopeful that my professional and educational experiences will combine to uniquely inform the board and service providers about the practical needs and opportunities which exist in our communities on a daily basis.
Thank you for allowing me to represent and serve our community. I welcome any feedback or insight to help me along this journey.