REMARKS AS PREPARED
DHS Leadership Academy Graduation
May 9, 2017
I am so happy to be here today to celebrate the accomplishments of this committed and inspirational class of Leadership Academy graduates.
Who all is here from OHA? DHS? Shared Services? And how many of you here have at least five years of service? 10 years? 15 years? 20 or more?
Public service is not always the easiest career path. You all have chose a life of service to make Oregon a better place for your friends, your neighbors, and everyone across the state.
I am also aware that all of you have tremendous responsibilities on your shoulders. Our state’s most vulnerable citizens depend on you to give them a fair opportunity to live independent and fulfilling lives.
You have my trust, my respect, and my appreciation.
Nearly one year ago, you invested your time and energy in your futures, and in turn, the future of Oregon. This tells me that you know that leadership is not just something you get with a title and an office. It takes communication skills, an unquenchable desire to learn, and – most of all – compassion.
Your leadership training gives me great comfort that DHS and OHA will continue to be led by sharp, innovative leaders. The impact of your work will be felt by Oregonians in every single corner of this state.
With your contributions at DHS & OHA, we are closer than we’ve ever been before to universal health coverage. Ninety-five percent of Oregonians and ninety-eight percent of Oregon children have health insurance. This is no small feat and the entire nation recognizes it.
And let’s not forget that during the height of the recession, when the number of Oregon families in extreme poverty seeking cash assistance increased by 80 percent, DHS employees rose to the occasion. You reduced the wait time for food stamp benefits from nine days to same day or next day service for more than 90 percent of the nearly 820,000 Oregonians served. That is extraordinary.
I am committed to protecting this progress so we can continue to move forward.
In every agency across our state, we must continue to empower current and future leaders with the training and skills needed to lead intentionally and effectively.
I appreciate DHS and OHA’s dedication to this effort. It’s proof positive that we can improve the quality and equity of the services we provide while creating new opportunities for our employees.
In the coming months, I look forward to seeing the results of the new knowledge and skills that you honed at the Leadership Academy. Regardless of your titles, I encourage you to lead from where you are. This will look differently for everyone, whether it’s helping improve the health of all Oregonians, implementing the integrated eligibility project, strengthening our child welfare department, or protecting our seniors from fraud and abuse.
Each one of you can make a difference to create a healthier, more prosperous future for our state. The Leadership Academy has equipped and empowered you to do so. I cannot wait to see where you all will lead us. Congratulations to you and your families.
And thanks for your service!