Thank You for a Great First Year at DHS

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

September 6, 2018

This week marks the start of my second year as your director. A year is a long time and yet it seems like it was just yesterday when the Governor asked me to assume this new role. Some have asked me if I think I made the right choice. My answer is always the same: Yes, no doubt!

Over the past 12 months, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and talking with many of you in person during field visits, listening forums, and other scheduled meetings. I have found you to be committed, caring, and motivated to make DHS improve and thrive. That makes me even more proud to be part of this team and excited about the work ahead.

During the past year my appreciation for the unique role DHS has in Oregon also has grown. We often interact with people from the moment they enter this world until the moment they leave it. Along that life journey, we work to help each person reach their full potential. We provide services to one in four Oregonians, often the most vulnerable among us, and across the entire continuum of life. That calls for us to focus on finding better ways to align our services and provide them in a seamless and integrated manner, and in collaboration with other agencies and our community partners.

Our team across our five program areas, along with Central and Shared Services, are working more closely together than ever before to move us toward our vision of safety, health, and independence for all Oregonians. We are working on a summary that outlines the many accomplishments we’ve had during the past year and I look forward to sharing it later this month with you and our stakeholders.

Still, challenges remain: Unreasonable workload; stress and trauma associated with work; lack of work-life balance, and the need for a more supportive and empowering work environment. We also have work to do to gain the trust and confidence of those we serve, as well as our partners, community leaders, and the public. We must do a better job serving our Tribes, and we need to improve equity and inclusion, for our staff and for our clients through our service delivery.

None of this will be easy and will take some time, but the work has already started, and the journey will be fulfilling and rewarding. We also know that we cannot do this work alone and will walk on this path of change and improvement together with our communities, supporters and critics.

Where we are headed

Over the next few months, we’ll work together to chart a path toward a person-centered, seamless delivery system. We will enhance the use of data, research and analytics, which hold great promise to inform and improve decision-making and bring better outcomes. We will build a culture that embraces safety, empowerment, accountability, positive development, engagement, and community connection. This will also help with retaining our caring and committed staff, and attracting new talent to the agency.

Your input is critical in charting the path ahead. We recently conducted an internal, statewide assessment of DHS. More than 2,000 of you from all programs participated in focus group discussions and another 1,500 responded to a survey. You provided valuable ideas and input about how we can become our best and create a stable, solid organizational foundation to support the person-centered and seamless service delivery system we aspire to provide Oregonians. Thank you!

Your feedback helped us identify six priority areas to improve DHS. The draft assessment​ was shared with all DHS staff last month. Soon we’ll be announcing regional forums to gather input to finalize the assessment and develop a 12- to 18-month strategic plan to address the priorities.

A promise

As your director, I commit to adhere to and model our core values, be a servant leader, and advocate on your behalf to secure the resources needed to reduce workload and improve outcomes. I commit to work toward fulfilling the vision of an equitable organization, both internally and in terms of service equity. And, I expect the same commitment from our leadership team and every manager in DHS.

I look forward to creating our collective future together, and I thank you for allowing me to join you on this journey.