Dane Co. board to weigh expectations for Human Services head

It comes nearly a month after supervisors overwhelmingly rejected state Rep. Shelia Stubbs for the role.
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 9:53 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2023 at 7:10 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – A new Dane Co. proposal will attempt to establish the county board’s expectations for selecting the next head of its human services department. The plan, if approved, would enumerate the qualifications board supervisors will use to decide whether to approve any nominee.

“This ordinance amendment provides clearly stated criteria that will allow for transparency in the process, as well as a path to move forward on this and any future decisions on this position,” explained Dist. 33 Supervisor Dana Pellebon, who introduced the proposal.

It comes nearly a month after supervisors overwhelmingly rejected state Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison) for the role. The 27-2 vote came despite a strong push by County Executive Joe Parisi, who nominated Stubbs, to get his candidate over the finishing line.

Shelia Stubbs
Shelia Stubbs(WMTV/Camberyn Kelley)

“One of the lessons learned from the last process was that the Board’s expectations have never been codified,” Co. Board Chair Patrick Miles noted, appearing to reference the clash between supervisors and Parisi over Stubbs’ nomination. “This ordinance amendment makes clear the Board’s expectations for candidates for the Director of Human Services.”

The Department of Human Services manages support programs like Joining Forces for Families and Building Bridges. It also runs facilities like the Beacon Homeless Day Resource Center.

In announcing her plan, Pellebon detailed the Board’s demands for the next nominee, who will oversee a staff of 800 employees. It starts with supervisors considering if the candidate meets the requirements listed in the county’s recruitment announcement and its affirmative action provisions, as well as four other factors:

  • If the candidate has five years of managerial and administrative experience in a human services-related field.
  • If the candidate has the equivalent of a master’s degree in education or training in social work, public administration, behavioral science, or heath care administration.
  • If the candidate shows an understanding of the principles and practices of social casework, social welfare administration, and social research, as well as multiple other social science disciplines.
  • If the candidate has fiscal management experience.

“It is our job as County Board Supervisors to ask questions of the items that come before us, especially for something as important as the Director of the largest department in Dane County’s government,” Pellebon added.

The proposal now heads to multiple county committees before it could return to the full board for a full vote, she continued.

Gloria Reyes
Gloria Reyes

Since the vote against Stubbs’ nomination, Parisi has turned to another high-profile name to help lead the human services department. Within a week of the vote, Parisi named former Deputy Mayor and recent mayoral candidate Gloria Reyes as co-deputy director of the agency. She serves alongside Astra Iheukumere, who has served as the department’s interim human services director since last fall.

Reyes oversaw human services programming while she was Madison’s deputy mayor, was the former president of the Madison Metropolitan School District Board and has worked with community organizations. At the time of her appointment, Parisi’s office gave no indication if she was being considered for the top job.

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