Selection of Terri White as interim director, effective March 1, is a good move for the Department of Human Services. White, 38, is commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. She'll keep that job, which she's had since May 2007, concurrently with her DHS assignment.
Bright and passionate in her current role, White will no doubt bring those attributes to the DHS in coming months. The mental health agency and DHS work together closely, so White is familiar with its operations and services, said Human Services Commission Chairman Brad Yarbrough. “She provides the commission with the confidence that operations will be well-managed so that we can aggressively focus on the search process.”
The search to replace retiring Director Howard Hendrick will have a national scope. As the largest state agency, and considering the important nature of its work, the hunt for a new leader merits such attention. The commission expects to complete the search by June 30.
After more than 13 years at the helm of DHS, Hendrick relinquishes his day-to-day duties on Feb. 29, though his official last day will be about a month later. White says she isn't interested in taking the DHS position permanently but that she's happy to serve in the interim.
Gov. Mary Fallin was among those commending the selection: “Her experience, both in providing services to Oklahomans in need as well as in managing a large agency, will serve her well as the new interim director at DHS.”
We hope the national search will produce a competent and dedicated leader to continue the vital mission of DHS. In the meantime, it's good to know that the agency will be in good hands. We wish White the best and applaud her for taking on additional duties.