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DHS news release

February 4, 2004

Contact: Patricia Feeny (503) 945-6955

DHS names head of field services for seniors and people with disabilities


A longtime state employee will oversee field operations for Seniors and People with Disabilities (SPD) in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS).

As the field operations manager, Debra McDermott of Salem will be responsible for managing the state-operated senior services and disability services offices throughout the state.

"I look forward to helping this part of the DHS organization strive to be efficient, accountable and work toward positive outcomes while maintaining a focus on the heart of our organization, which is to provide high-quality services to clients," said McDermott.

James Toews, DHS assistant director for seniors and people with disabilities, said that McDermott has more than 28 years of experience in state government and has worked closely with field structures as personnel officer, affirmative action officer, budget analyst, personnel director, and training manager.

"Debra is respected by labor for her fairness and equity, and by her peers for her positive approach to problem solving and creativity," said Toews. "As a member of the SPD executive team for the past two years, she has made valuable contributions during a time of considerable challenges and changes."

Most recently, she has served as a human resources manager for DHS, working closely with vocational rehabilitation, child welfare, self-sufficiency, and seniors and people with disabilities to strengthen training and improve systems processes and organizational development.

"I have great respect for the employees who commit themselves on a daily basis to helping seniors and persons with disabilities maintain their health, dignity and - to the greatest extent possible - their independence," said McDermott.

McDermott holds a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Oregon.