Portrait of Interim Director Helen HowellAs the Interim Director of the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD), Helen Howell leads nearly 400 staff who make HSD's role as a grantmaker, planner, and direct service provider possible.

Our employees are organized into five divisions:

  1. Youth and Family Empowerment (YFE)
  2. Mayor's Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (MODVSA)
  3. Leadership and Administrative Division (LAD)
  4. Aging and Disability Services (ADS)
  5. Homelessness Strategy and Investment (HSI)

Each grouping of staff is designed to work in partnership with providers and stakeholders throughout the community on a specific issue area to effectively steward public dollars. We accomplish this together by investing in strategies, programs, and services that work for the community, promote innovation in service delivery, and advance racial equity.

Helen's Bio

Helen has significant executive management experience with a special focus on change management and process improvement in addition to over 30 years of public policy, advocacy and leadership experience on a broad range of issues.

Her experience includes roles at the federal, state and local levels of government, and her positions have included serving as an advisor to U.S. Senator Patty Murray in Washington, D.C., and as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Staff Secretary at the White House under President Bill Clinton.  At the state level, she served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Gary Locke, and as the State's lead regulator of financial services when he appointed her to serve as Director of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions. 

Prior to joining HSD, Helen served as a Senior Director with the King County Housing Authority (KCHA), the largest provider of affordable housing in the Pacific Northwest.  She served as a member of the 6-person Executive Team, and led Policy, Research & Evaluation, Homeless Housing Initiatives, and the Housing Choice Voucher Program at KCHA.

Her experience with human services and the homeless crisis response system came from serving as Director of the Pierce County Human Services Department, and as Executive Director of Building Changes, a Seattle-based nonprofit working to reduce youth and family homelessness in Washington state.

Helen earned her B.A. from Vassar College, a Diploma in Legal Studies (Jurisprudence and Moral & Political Philosophy) from Oxford University, and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.