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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: City's Human Services Director resigns to take position in Virginia

5/15/2013  2:00:00 PM

City's Human Services Director resigns to take position in Virginia
Smith will head the Human Services Department in Virginia Beach

SEATTLE - Dannette R. Smith, Director of the Seattle Human Services Department for the past three years, is resigning to take a position as Human Services Director for the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Her last day with the city will be Friday, June 14, 2013.

"I'm very proud of the work Dannette has done to bring innovative ways to deliver services to Seattle's most vulnerable people and her tireless efforts to involve the community," said Mayor Mike McGinn. "I wish her well in this exciting new opportunity."

Ms. Smith began serving as Director of the Human Services Department (HSD) in June 2010. She has directed a department with an annual budget of $124 million and 338 employees. HSD funds and operates programs for people with low incomes, children, domestic violence victims, seniors, immigrants and refugees, homeless people and persons with disabilities.

During her three-year tenure, Ms. Smith created and implemented a strategic, family-centered vision for the department, expanding and reshaping its work with the community, and formed new partnerships with other funders, service providers and systems.

Catherine Lester will serve as Interim Director until a permanent director is confirmed. Lester is currently HSD's Deputy Director and she joined the department in June 2011. She has been integral in implementing HSD's strategic plan, Healthy Communities, Healthy Families. Recently, Lester was selected as one of 16 leaders from across the country to be one of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2013-2014 Children and Family Fellows.

Among Ms. Smith's accomplishments:

  • A new strategic plan for human services, "Healthy Communities, Healthy Families";
  • An investment plan for homeless services, "Communities Supporting Safe and Stable Housing," outlining investment for more than $30 million in services and programs for individuals and families who are homeless;
  • A far-reaching community engagement approach that involved individuals receiving services (including representatives of underserved communities), providers and advocates in program design and implementation; and
  • Performance management standards through the development of a framework based on program outcomes for each service division in alignment with the strategic plan; this also involved improvements to HSD's contracting and procurement system, and revamping the collection and analysis of data to help guide future investment.

In her new position in Virginia Beach, Smith will direct a department of 1,100 staff and lead programs that include child welfare, adult and family services, financial assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, refugee resettlement, mental health and substance abuse services, developmental disability services, and juvenile justice.

"I'd like to thank the Mayor and the people of Seattle for this extraordinary honor and opportunity to serve the most vulnerable people in our community over the last three years," said Smith.

Prior to her job in Seattle, Ms. Smith directed the Fulton County Department of Family and Children Services in Atlanta, Georgia.

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