OKLAHOMA CITY -- Edward Lake has accepted the position of Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS). Lake will begin work at OKDHS on Nov. 1, 2012 and be paid an annual salary of $185,000.
Lake’s acceptance of the job concludes the Commission’s nationwide search since March to replace former Director Howard Hendrick who retired after serving nearly 14 years in the position.
"I am very pleased Mr. Lake has accepted the offer to become the permanent director of OKDHS," said Preston Doerflinger, who has been interim director of OKDHS since March. "Although I will be turning over the helm to Ed on November 1, I look forward to continuing to work with him throughout this next year as a liaison with the Governor's office and with the legislature. When I return to my post as director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (formerly Office of State Finance), I will take with me a great appreciation and respect for OKDHS employees and the honorable but difficult work they do every day."
"Ed Lake is the right man at the right time,” said Commission Chairman Wes Lane. “He has both the credentials and the credibility to not only build upon the great work already being done at DHS, but to institute and further those reforms necessary to restore the public's trust in this critically important agency."
The Commission for Human Services has cancelled its regularly scheduled meeting for Oct. 23 and have set a special meeting to be held on November 1. Lake will attend that commission meeting as director of the agency.
Lake, from Hendersonville, Tenn., has experience working at almost every level of the Tennessee DHS from 1973 until retiring in 2011. He served as a child welfare caseworker, a food stamp office supervisor, and as both a county and regional director in social services. He served as deputy commissioner of the agency from 1992 until 1996, as assistant commissioner from 1996 through 2003 when he was again named as deputy commissioner until his retirement in 2011.
Responsible for the day-to-day operations of TDHS, Lake managed the department’s more than 5,000 employees in all 95 counties of the state. The state agency administered programs including Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Programs (SNAP); Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); Medicaid; adult protective services; child care licensing; vocational rehabilitation, disability determination services; child support; appeals and hearings; as well as several federal community services programs.
Lake has extensive experience with organizational change and oversaw comprehensive restructuring of the agency. He worked to improve client services and build external support of the department’s efforts by working closely with advisory groups of advocates, legal aid staff, and other key external stakeholder groups.
During Lake’s tenure at TDHS, he was among key contributors to the development of the agency’s child welfare caseworker training academy and received a community service agency award for improving the department’s and the community’s child abuse services following a nationally publicized child abuse death.
He also provided leadership for the design and implementation of sweeping child care licensing reforms in state statute and policy, including a statewide rated child care licensing system.
Lake led the department’s implementation of the first TANF program and chaired the Governor’s Task Force on Families First (TANF program) to develop comprehensive changes to the program. He provided leadership during the state’s emergency responses to Hurricane Katrina and developed an innovative method for providing immediate financial assistance to relocating victims through the use of “pre-loaded” electronic benefits cards.
Lake holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from East Tennessee University and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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