Governor Perdue announces Mary Dean Harvey as new DFCS chief

August 16, 2005

ATLANTA - Today Governor Sonny Perdue joined Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) Commissioner B. J. Walker to announce the appointment of Mary Dean Harvey as director of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). The former director of the Nebraska Department of Social Services and long-time advocate for children, Ms. Harvey brings an unparalleled degree of experience to the position.

“Georgia’s children and their families deserve the very best we can give them, and we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in a short time,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “One of the best things we can do for children in the state’s custody is to find the right people for management positions in the child welfare system. We began with DHR Commissioner B.J. Walker, who is redefining the role of a social services agency. Today I’m pleased to introduce Georgia to the person who’s going to lead those workers in strengthening families and keeping children safe: Mary Dean Harvey.”

“In our search for a DFCS director, we knew we needed someone who could step into the role and make a contribution from day one,” said Commissioner B.J. Walker. “Mary Harvey brings a rare combination of impassioned advocacy and hands-on managerial experience. She has proven she can deliver better services while making the most of the resources at hand. Georgia’s DFCS employees will be happy to know that she understands what it’s like on the frontlines. We’re happy to be gaining the benefit of her experience and the fresh new outlook she’ll bring to our team.”

A native of Louisiana, Harvey spent most of her career in Nebraska. She is a former teacher and public school administrator who served as the director of Nebraska’s Department of Social Services from 1991 to 1995. She also served as project director for Omaha Safe and Healthy Schools, president and CEO of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Omaha, and executive director of Girls Incorporated of Omaha.

“I’m excited to be coming to Georgia at this time of challenge and change,” said Mary Dean Harvey. “Governor Perdue and Commissioner Walker both have a clear vision and a strong commitment to children and their families. Everything I’ve done for nearly three decades has prepared me for this job. I want to thank them for this opportunity to continue providing help to those who children who need it the most.”
DFCS is responsible for investigating cases of child abuse and neglect and providing support for families in need.

A biography of Mary Dean Harvey is provided below:

Mary Dean Harvey, 60, was born and raised in Louisiana, but spent most of her career in Nebraska. She was a teacher and administrator in Omaha public schools for seventeen years. As the Executive Director of Girls Incorporated of Omaha from 1986 to 1991, she raised both the prospects and self-expectations of low-income girls by creating that city’s first mentoring program for young women.

In 1991, she was appointed director of the Nebraska Department of Social Services where she pioneered welfare reform in the state; developed a managed care program for Medicaid that improved services and saved $58 million; lead the development of a statewide computer system for AFDC payments; and introduced business practices that improved services and stabilized the department’s workforce.

From 1995 to 2002, she served as president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Omaha where she helped deliver better services to more children, increasing their academic performance and helping them learn leadership skills.

Most recently as manager of the Omaha Public School system’s “Safe Schools Healthy Students” initiative, she has brought together a network of providers to give disadvantaged children and their families access to the after-school, healthcare, mental health, family development, and early childhood development services they need to have the best chance of succeeding at school and in life.

Ms. Harvey holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Grambling University and a Masters in Science in Secondary Education and Certification in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.


For more information:
Office of the Governor
Office of Communications
(404) 651-7774

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