Program division leadership updates
Message from Director Fariborz Pakseresht
January 18, 2022
ODHS has been preparing for leadership transitions in three of its program divisions: Aging and People with Disabilities, Child Welfare and Self-Sufficiency Programs. We wanted to update you on recent decisions and our progress.
Aging and People with Disabilities (APD)
Mike McCormick has led the Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) division as interim director for the past two years. We are actively seeking a permanent director, led by a recruitment team. The APD Director recruitment team is concluding the process to determine finalists who are moving forward. Any finalist will be part of additional interviews with ODHS and APD program leadership as well as key external groups that will take place before the end of January. Depending on the outcome of those interviews, ODHS will host a town-hall style presentation for all APD staff and interested parties in February. A hiring decision will be made following the conclusion of this process.
Mike has led APD with a steady hand and great compassion through the most challenging experiences in the program's history. He and his team continue to work tirelessly at the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring vulnerable Oregonians have access to vaccinations and providing innovate solutions to support our overtaxed hospital and health care systems.
Child Welfare (CW)
Current Child Welfare Director Rebecca Jones Gaston was
nominated by the Biden Administration in November for a program leadership position in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Administration for Children and Families Division. The appointment requires Senate confirmation, which has not yet been scheduled, leaving Rebecca's transition date unknown. Until then, Rebecca will continue as Child Welfare director and assist in preparing for her departure.
Upon Rebecca's confirmation,
Aprille Flint-Gerner will step in as interim Child Welfare director. Aprille is the current Child Welfare deputy director of equity, workforce development and training. Aprille has been with ODHS for two years, bringing 25 years of experience in implementing culturally appropriate, trauma-informed, and best practices in social welfare agencies and community-based organizations.
Rebecca continues to provide steady leadership to help us navigate through challenging times, and she led the development of a vision and solid foundation for the future. As a result, Oregon is in a good position to continue the momentum and improve well-being for all children and families served by our child welfare system.
Self-Sufficiency Programs (SSP)
Also in November we announced Dan Haun would be departing the SSP director position for a new role with Vocational Rehabilitation. Jana McLellan was scheduled to join SSP as its interim director this month. Jana is the director of the COVID-19 Recovery and Response Unit (CRUU) and a former Child Welfare deputy director. With the Omicron variant stressing our health care system by recording the greatest peaks in COVID-19 cases during the pandemic, Jana will stay on with the CRRU through the surge. Jana is giving SSP a slice of her limited time, getting involved in specific SSP efforts and working closely with the SSP deputy directors,
Claire Seguin and Ivonne Lopez.
Until Jana can rejoin ODHS full-time, Claire will be the acting interim director of SSP, handling the daily decision-making for the program.
Claire has been with ODHS for three years. She has more than 30 years of experience in community development, during which she has led successful community development corporations in southern California, built affordable housing, worked on community revitalization and has been a strong advocate for anti-poverty programs. She joined ODHS from Oregon Housing and Community Services where she served as assistant director of housing stabilization.
Program directions remain in place through leadership transitions
Each of these programs have strong visions in place for their futures that align with the ODHS vision for providing holistic, person-centered services to Oregonians that assist them in achieving well-being. Both APD and CW are working closely with SSP to align services where they serve the same individuals and families. The program strategic plans and their growing collaborations will remain in place. We are committed to continuing along our current pathway as we undergo leadership transitions.
We will continue to keep you updated as we near the next steps in these transitions.