The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday January 29th

Orange County Seeks New Head Of Social Services

The Board of Social Services queried local groups and leaders to determine what characteristics to look for in a new director

The Board of Social Services held a meeting with its assessment panel Thursday to plan recruitment activity for its director position. The board is seeking to fill the vacancy left by the late director Marti Pryor-Cook, who died in November.

The five-person assessment panel consists of three Social Services board members, Orange County Manager John Link Jr. and Social Services interim Director Martin Whitt.

"We discussed interviewing dates, and we also determined what qualities we are looking for in the new director," Whitt said.

The qualifications for the position were determined by the feedback from a number of organizations and leaders in Orange County.

Dee Gamble, chairwoman of the Board of Social Services, said the board wrote a letter to 53 Orange County organizations and leaders such as the police chiefs, mayors and school system officials.

"In the letter we asked them what would they like to see in the new director and what kind of issues the director should focus on," Gamble said.

The board received positive feedback from the letters it sent out. Gamble said most people want a person who exhibits strong communication skills, particularly in dealing with officials such as county commissioners and managers.

"We are basically looking for a genuine person who is skilled at conceptualizing in an effective way the social issues affecting our population and finding possible solutions to these issues," Gamble said.

Gamble said the job entails major responsibility, and the board is looking for someone who can handle the task.

"The director must oversee a budget of $14 million plus state and federally funded programs," Gamble said. "(The director must) also supervise a staff of 130 people and monitor programs and supervise the disadvantaged and at-risk citizens."

Elaine Holmes, personnel director for Orange County, said the interviewing process will probably not take place until after February, when all the applications are in and have been reviewed by the assessment panel.

Holmes said the recruitment deadline is Feb. 19.

"After the assessment panel reviews the applications, the Board of Social Services will make the final decision."

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