Oklahoma's mental health chief to be Department of Human Services' interim director

Terri White, director of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, said she doesn't want the DHS job permanently.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Modified: February 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm •  Published: February 3, 2012
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The head of Oklahoma's mental health agency was chosen Friday to be interim director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Terri White, 38, takes over at the DHS on March 1, the day after longtime Director Howard Hendrick leaves behind his day-to-day responsibilities.

“I will give it my 110 percent,” she said.

White said Friday she will continue in her current position as commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. She said she will work out of offices at both agencies.

“Some days, I may be back and forth six times,” she said.

DHS commissioners hope to choose a new director before July 1 after conducting a national search.

White said she would not accept the DHS position permanently.

“I am happy to help in any way I can to help them find the best person to have this job permanently,” she said.

DHS commissioners voted Friday without opposition to have White be their interim director.

The commission's chairman, Brad Yarbrough, called her “a perfect fit to move into this position during the short term and continue moving the agency forward in a positive direction.”

Hendrick, a former state senator, announced his retirement during emotional remarks Jan. 24 at a DHS commission meeting. He said then he would step down from his day-to-day responsibilities Feb. 29.

Hendrick said Friday his official last day will be March 31 or April 1. He has served as director more than 13 years.

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