Alumni Update: Janet Runbeck, '06, Named South Sound Magazine Citizen of the Year

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Janet Runbeck's work to raise awareness of and prevent human trafficking is just the latest example of her selfless career.

UW Tacoma Nursing alumna Janet Runbeck, '06, pictured in 2011 as she gets ready for a free day clinic for uninsured patients.South Sound Magazine has named UW Tacoma alumna Janet Runbeck its Citizen of the Year for 2016.

The honor recognizes Runbeck’s work in the community to raise awareness of and prevent human trafficking, especially sex trafficking.

This worthy work is just the latest example of Runbeck’s decades of community-engaged efforts. She got her master of nursing degree from UW Tacoma in 2006, but that already was simply the capstone to a career focused on public and community health that started in the 1970s. Back then, Runbeck became one of the nation’s first nurse practitioners, a type of health professional that, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, blends “clinical expertise in diagnosing and treating health conditions with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management.”

Subsequently, she has been involved in many projects to increase access to health care for underserved populations. UW Tacoma recognized Runbeck’s contributions by presenting her with its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009.

Runbeck even had a moment in the national spotlight when The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper came to Tacoma in search of healthcare disasters brought about by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. A clinic Runbeck had founded to provide care to underserved populations was able to close when all its patients were successfully enrolled in health insurance plans shortly after the ACA was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012.

Read more about Runbeck:

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / May 27, 2016
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or