Two named to Oklahoma DHS governing board

Gov. Mary Fallin names two women from Edmond to fill a vacancy caused by the death of a DHS commissioner and to replace a member whose term expires. The commission is the governing body for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: August 17, 2012 at 7:02 pm •  Published: August 17, 2012
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The past year has been tumultuous at DHS.

After a series of high-profile child abuse deaths, DHS settled a federal class-action lawsuit in January that alleged children were being harmed by their stays in the agency's care.

As part of that settlement, the agency agreed to help craft a series of child welfare reforms, called the Pinnacle Plan, that are to be overseen by three out-of-state child welfare experts.

Longtime DHS Director Howard Hendrick announced his retirement in January. Commissioners, who had hoped to name a new director by last month, still are searching for Hendrick's successor.

Preston Doerflinger, who serves on Fallin's Cabinet as finance secretary and previously served as state finance director, is serving as interim director of DHS. He succeeded Mental Health Commissioner Terri White, who first was named interim director but resigned in March after questions arose as to whether her service violated a prohibition against dual state office holding.

“The ongoing reforms at the Department of Human Services — including the implementation of the Pinnacle Plan — are essential in our efforts to improve child welfare services,” Fallin said in a statement. “Both Pam Kanaly and Karen Waddell are respected and successful community leaders with a great deal of experience working with families and children. I know both are ready for the challenge and committed to serving on the commission in order to help the agency to better protect and serve the children and citizens of Oklahoma.”