Ed Lake was named Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services on November 1, 2012. With offices in all 77 counties, OKDHS is the largest state agency with more than 7,000 employees and a $2.3 billion budget. About a million Oklahomans each year are touched daily by more than 40 state and federal human services programs administered by OKDHS.
Lake came to Oklahoma from Nashville, Tennessee. He worked at almost every level of the Tennessee Department of Human Services from 1973 until retiring in 2011 as the deputy commissioner of the agency.
Lake has served as a child welfare caseworker, a food stamp office supervisor, and as both a county and regional director. He served as deputy commissioner of TDHS from 1992 until 1996, and 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 the Tennessee DHS, Lake managed more than 5,000 employees in all 95 counties of the state. The 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 Tennessee DHS. 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 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, and he was a key contributor to the development of the agency’s child welfare caseworker training academy. 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 Tennessee’s implementation of the first TANF program, later chairing 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 State University and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.