DHS News

Shaping the future of DHS

DHS Director's Message
Message from DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht​

January 4, 2019​​

As we begin 2019, I want to share with you some of my reflections from the last 16 months and thoughts about what lies ahead.

When I chose to come back to DHS, I had no doubt this would be the most challenging assignment of my state career. What I didn't know was it would also be the most exciting and promising. For me, this is an opportunity of a lifetime to positively influence the experiences and outcomes for those we serve. It also comes with the responsibility of being constantly conscious of how my actions can ripple out through this organization and to the people we serve.

Last year we conducted several assessments, did best practice research and held staff and community listening forums, through which the picture of a better, more effective DHS began to emerge. Our staff and those we serve want to be treated with more respect; they are willing to embrace accountability but they also want to know that we listen to their ideas and suggestions, and follow up on them. They want to work in an organization they are proud of and maintain a reasonable work-life balance. Those we serve want to see DHS as a resource rather than an obstacle. I want to share with you several concrete things I feel we need to do to accomplish this. 

  • Do a much better job listening to, communicating with, and connecting with those we serve as well as those who serve them; all of you and our providers and partners. Those who do the work and are impacted by the work have the best ideas on how to improve the work.
  • Learn how to better tell our stories so that our work is defined by our many successes and not by our failures.
  • Celebrate the surfacing of flaws and mistakes so we can become aware of them and can address them. This requires staff to feel safe and for that to happen we need to change our mindset about mistakes.  We need to allow for a learning environment where creativity can flourish. High-performing businesses do this every day but practices in the public sector rarely allow this to happen.
  • Create a culture where safety and well-being, caring and supportive environments, high expectations and accountability, meaningful participation, and engaging the community become part of the fabric of DHS.
  • Model and practice our core values and our emerging culture. This is an expectation for all of us which begins with me as the director of this agency and extends to everyon​e who works for DHS.
  • Leverage the wisdom of the community to improve the outcomes for those we serve. This includes listening to and learning from our diverse communities, including Oregon's Tribes, who feel marginalized and ignored by our current practices. It is the community that can make sustainable change in its own environment. We need to build this model from the ground up rather than top down.
  • Honor diversity and inclusion not by just talking about it but including it in every aspect of the work we do.
  • Do a much better job using research, data, and analytics to inform our decisions.
  • Shift the way we think about our work from operating in silos to an organization that is open, dynamic, interconnected and tuned in to the needs of those we serve.
  • Fundamentally shift the nature of our relationships and understand that relationship is the organizing principle of the universe as well as organizations. How we relate to each other and those we serve can make or break us.

Some of the work to accomplish the above has already begun and you will learn more about it in the year ahead.

Our everyday work does not stop while we begin to create the future DHS together. It is most important that we also be mindful of strengthening our core and resourcing our programs so we have the capacity to deliver quality services to Oregonians. This will be the primary focus of our interactions with the Oregon State Legislature when it opens its next session later this month. 

I came to DHS with a realistic picture of our challenges and our potential, and with a commitment to stay for the long run. Together, along with our communities and our stakeholders, we have the opportunity to shape the future of DHS. It is my honor to work alongside you to re-create an organization that we can be proud of and is valued by those we serve. I hope you are as excited for what's ahead for DHS as I am.


Happy New Year!