This week on Inside Olympia, host Austin Jenkins sits down for an in-depth, full-hour interview with Washington Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Jilma Meneses.
Washington’s “DSHS,” at it’s known, is the largest agency in state government. It represents 14% of the state operating budget, and employs more than 17,000 workers. The agency also contracts with over 20,000 service providers. In total DSHS provides services to nearly two million people, or one in every four Washingtonians.
DSHS serves the developmentally disabled, through residential habilitation centers, and in community settings. It is deeply involved in providing behavioral health services, including operating the state’s two psychiatric hospitals, Western State Hospital in Lakewood and Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake. It provides income assistance to a wide range of Washingtonians. It serves the aged through a variety of programs. And much more.
Meneses was named to the post by Gov. Jay Inslee and started in January. She comes to the post with a resume that includes extensive work in both California and the Pacific NW. In Oregon, she worked at Portland State, Oregon Health Sciences University and Concordia University. Most recently she was CEO for Catholic Charities of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo where she led 30+ direct human services programs.
One critical need she sees at DSHS is updating the agency’s IT infrastructure to enable modern, more cost-effective delivery of services. Another need: staffing. Meneses says DSHS is hiring people who have a desire to serve others, in a variety of settings.
Get to know DSHS Secretary Jilma Meneses, and her goals and priorities for the agency — this week on Inside Olympia.