e agency’s employees needed to know who they would be working for. The public needed to know who would take the agency into an era that will be every bit as challenging as the 13-plus years in which Hendrick was director.
The time is right for a new director; Hendrick himself noted that the average stay nationwide for those in his position is 2-4 years. The DHS needs new enthusiasm, new energy and new ideas. A deliberate search can now begin for his successor. This should be a national search focused on finding someone with experience running a large public agency, a person with demonstrated expertise in social services.
Hendrick and his predecessor were former lawmakers. The next director should not come from the Legislature. Lawmakers should be involved in finding ways to make the next director’s job more manageable. This could include a restructuring. It should certainly include better funding.
As Hendrick’s time at DHS comes to an end, the agency’s governing body is demonstrating that its members have more of a role to play than they’ve played in the past. To quote the Broadway lyrics Hendrick cited in his resignation letter, the board must send a clear message to the next director:
You’ll never walk alone.