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Head of state’s largest agency will leave at year’s end

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Oct. 12, 2011 at 9:27 am |
October 12, 2011 9:28 am

Susan Dreyfus will be the latest member of Gov. Chris Gregoire‘s administration to leave when she goes back to her old company in Wisconsin.

Dreyfus has led Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services since May 2009, while racking up the phone minutes with her husband, Lee, who stayed in Wisconsin as a circuit court judge.

Gregoire announced today Dreyfus would return to Wisconsin in January after the Legislature finishes an emergency session where it could make human services cuts that Dreyfus calls “unconscionable.”

Gregoire said Dreyfus would become CEO and president of Milwaukee-based nonprofit Families International and its subsidiary, the Alliance for Children and Families. She has served as vice president of the companies. The governor said she would replace Peter Goldberg, who died Aug. 12.

Dreyfus praised Washington in a statement and then said:

There will be an opportunity during the time I have left here to celebrate what we have been able to accomplish in the last two and a half years, thanks to my leadership team, our staff and our many community partners who have been willing to join me in leadership as we have faced  unprecedented economic challenges. But right now we have some very important work to do during the special session to help the Department and the state emerge from the impacts of this great recession and stay true to the values of Washington state. I look forward to working diligently with the governor and legislators through the special session.

Gregoire said she would pick an acting secretary to replace Dreyfus by the end of the session.

I asked Susan to join us as a change agent, a visionary and a leader. She has repeatedly confirmed my confidence in her. She has managed an extremely complex agency through one of the greatest challenges possible and has done so with tenacity, vision and positive results. Her departure is a loss to our state and to my team, who has come to rely on her insight and constant drive. I understand and respect her personal and professional decision to return home to Wisconsin and continue her work at the national level and am glad she will remain through the special legislative session to tackle yet another unimaginable challenge.

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