DHS Commission offers job to Tennessee candidate
BY JARREL WADE World Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
10/10/12 at 2:11 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The DHS oversight commission voted to hire a new director Wednesday during a special meeting.
Ed Lake, a retired deputy commission of the Tennessee Department of Human Services, has until Monday to accept the position following the commission vote.
“In our view, he’s a proven change agent and a proven leader,” said commission Chairman Wes Lane. “We were looking for someone who could implement reform.”
Lake met with Gov. Mary Fallin for an interview Wednesday before the meeting, and she was supported the decision to offer the position to Lake.
If he accepts, Lake will join the agency as it prepares for a Nov. 6 state question vote that could abolish the DHS oversight commission, making the director position answer directly to the governor.
Lake would also take over the job as the agency continues progress on its Pinnacle Plan, the child-welfare improvement plan stemming from the settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit.
Lane said the Pinnacle Plan factored into the hiring of Lake, but only in explaining to him what his job would entail.
“It was more a function of him … making that happen,” Lane said.
Lake did not appear at the public meeting. He was only in front of the commission during the private, executive session.
Lake was a finalist for the job in May, but the commission opted to hire a search firm to expand the list of candidates.
“It only made me more confident that Ed (Lake) is the right choice,” Lane said.
The search firm -- California-based Neher & Associates -- had a contract for up to $21,000 and gave the commissioners 26 candidates earlier this year.
The director position has been vacant since April when Howard Hendrick retired after 13 years as the agency leader.
Lake was offered the position at $185,000 per year with a $5,000 signing bonus, according to the commission vote.
Hendrick was paid $165,000 per year, according to a DHS spokeswoman.
Interim director Preston Doerflinger will be returning to his previous post as director of the Office of State Finance if Lake accepts the position with a start date of Nov. 1.
Lake worked for the Tennessee agency for 39 years, from front-line worker to administrator, before retiring in February last year.
While in Tennessee, he served as deputy commissioner of the agency from 1992 until 1996, as assistant commissioner from 1996 through 2003 and was again named as deputy commissioner until his retirement in 2011.