Shepherd’s Hand Free Clinic gets new executive director

February 27, 2019

A change in leadership is underway at the Shepherd’s Hand Free Clinic in Whitefish as the former director of operations, Jennifer Hyatt, trades in her title for executive director, according to an announcement Tuesday.

Hyatt is taking over for Shan Kingston, who became executive director in 2017 after her longstanding predecessor and clinic co-founder Meg Erickson retired. Hyatt assumes her role as Shepherd’s Hand passes its 23-year mark of providing acute medical attention for those with limited financial means.

Hyatt’s tenure with Shepherd’s Hand is a long one. Prior to becoming director of operations in 2016, she worked as a volunteer with the organization beginning in 2004.

According to an announcement from the organization, Hyatt’s “breadth of experience, deep commitment to service and strong relationships within our organization and throughout the community represent the very foundations of the compassionate mission of Shepherd’s Hand.”

The free clinic, based at Christ Lutheran Church, was founded on the premise of giving others access to health care - something that has been largely addressed by the state’s Medicaid program established by the Affordable Care Act. Hyatt said the clinic is now in more of a position to be “responsive and innovative” to the community’s needs while continuing the mission and core values of the clinic’s founders.

“I’m humbled and excited to lead this important organization into its next chapter,” Hyatt said in a prepared statement. “I am grateful to have an enthusiastic board of directors and a dedicated staff. Together, our goal is to collaborate closely with all stakeholders as we re-imagine what is possible and evaluate new directions where we can make an impact in the Flathead Valley.”

Shepherd’s Hand was founded in 1995. In recent years, clinic officials and board members have focused on further developing various services as-needed, including the organization’s dental program and access to mental-health resources.

“With the strategic use of community engagement, we can be assured that Shepherd’s Hand has a bright future,” Hyatt said.

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 of kgardner@dailyinterlake.com