Atlanta, GA – Today, Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner and Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS) Director Candice L. Broce announced a new, joint DHS/DFCS Executive Leadership team. Effective October 1, 2021, Craig Foster, who served as Deputy Director of Policy in the Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp, will serve as Chief of Staff. Chris Hempfling will assume the role of Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Deputy Commissioner. Robin Herron, Legal Affairs Manager in the Office of the Governor, will leave her post to become Director, Executive Operations.
Also effective October 1, Department and/or Division veterans, Demetrius Taylor, LaMarva Ivory, Venkat Krishnan, Mary Havick, Jon Anderson, Tanguler Gray, Stephen Harris, Clifford O'Connor, and Tahni Segars will assume new positions as part of DHS/DFCS Executive Leadership. New hires, Sunny Patel, Breanna Thomas, and Kylie Harrod will take on the roles of Deputy Commissioner, Operations; Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Operations; and Director, Communications, respectively.
"Having worked with Craig Foster and Chris Hempfling for several years now, I have always found them to be strong leaders committed to serving the people of Georgia," said Commissioner Broce. "I am proud to have them and several other experienced professionals as part of this team, and I am grateful to the members of our Administration who have stepped up to assume new responsibilities. Working together, as one Department, we will best support, protect, and empower Georgians and their families."
Craig Foster was named Chief of Staff. Prior to this role, Foster served as Deputy Director of Policy in the Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp, where he spearheaded the Governor's foster care and adoption reform legislation. He also previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor for the Governor’s Office, beginning in January 2019. Prior to joining the Kemp Administration, he worked as a Policy Analyst for the House Budget and Research Office for 15 years. A lifelong Georgian, Foster is a resident of Dallas and the proud father of one son.
Chris Hempfling was named Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Deputy Commissioner. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director and General Counsel for DFCS. In this role, Hempfling provided advice and guidance to the Division and county offices on legal issues concerning the Child Welfare and Office of Family Independence programs. Additionally, he worked closely with various stakeholders to ensure best practices were utilized throughout the state and aligned with legal and policy requirements. He previously served as a Special Assistant Attorney General for DHS, representing DFCS and the Division of Adult Protective Services. Hempfling received a bachelor’s degree in political science from The Ohio State University, a Master of Business Administration from Otterbein College, and his Juris Doctor from the University of Dayton. He is a Child Welfare Specialist and a member of the National Association of Council for Children and the Children Protection and Advocacy section of the State Bar of Georgia.
Robin Herron was named Director, Executive Operations. She will join DHS/DFCS from the Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp, where she has served as Legal Affairs Manager and as Scheduler. Before joining the Governor’s Office, Herron served as the Executive Assistant to the Georgia Secretary of State. She was a Pre-K Paraprofessional at Mansfield Elementary School prior to her state service. Herron holds a paralegal certificate from the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. She and her husband, Donny, reside in Covington and have one son.
Sunny Patel was named Deputy Commissioner, Operations. He previously served as a Unit Manager for the Georgia Technology Authority. Prior to joining GTA, he was the Operations Manager in the Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp. Also a small business owner, Patel has an extensive background in finance and business operations. He resides in Sugar Hill.
Demetrius Taylor was named Deputy Commissioner, Finance. Prior to this role, he served as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer of DHS, where he oversaw the management of the Department’s audits, budgets, contracts, facilities, and investigations, and provided oversight of the Refugee Assistance and Residential Child Care Licensing programs. He formerly served as the Department’s Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Director of the Office of Budget Administration, where he oversaw a budget of more than $1.9 billion. Taylor graduated from Georgia Southern University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance. He is a board member of the National Association of Human Services Finance Officers and a member of the Government Finance Officers Association and Georgia Fiscal Management Council. Originally from Atlanta, he now lives in Hampton with his wife, Janaya, and their five children, A’maya, Ryland, Roland, Baley, and Caleb.
LaMarva Ivory was named Deputy Commissioner, External Affairs. She most recently served as DFCS Deputy Division Director over Strategy, Innovation, and Engagement, where she managed a team of staff responsible for implementing innovative ideas and formulating strategic engagements and initiatives that are beneficial to the Division and its constituents. This role also included her serving as the liaison to the regional and state advisory boards. Ivory has more than 30 years of experience with Georgia DFCS and DHS, and she has served in numerous leadership roles, including county and regional director positions, Director of the Office of Regulatory Services, and Deputy Inspector General.
Venkat Krishnan was named Deputy Commissioner, Information Technology. Previously, he served as Chief Information Officer for DHS. As part of leadership, he managed a team of more than 175 professionals and was responsible for all information technology transformations pertaining to human services for more than 12 years and under three administrations. Prior to joining DHS, he was the Executive Project Director at the Georgia Technology Authority, where he led a team that built a comprehensive child welfare system for Georgia, resulting in better outcomes for children and improved accountability to community stakeholders. In the early part of his career, Krishnan worked as a Senior Manager for Deloitte Consulting in the U.S. and Canada. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, and operations research and is also a Chartered and Cost Accountant. He resides in Marietta with his wife, Jaya, and their son, Rohan.
Mary Havick was named Deputy Commissioner, Child Welfare. She began her career as a Social Services Case Manager at Oconee County DFCS, following an internship associated with her bachelor's degree program in social work at the University of Georgia. As a frontline Case Manager, Havick worked in Child Protective Services investigations, Family Preservation, and Adult Protective Services. She later joined Clarke County DFCS as a Case Manager in the foster care and adoption programs. After obtaining her master's degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Havick returned to Georgia and worked at the Georgia Academy, training DFCS child welfare employees. She accepted her first leadership role with the Division as a Social Services Supervisor in Barrow County. Following her later service as a Regional Program Consultant, Havick became Regional Director and finally, North District Director. She most recently served as Deputy Division Director of Child Welfare with DFCS. She and her husband, Steven, reside in Watkinsville and have two children, Cash and Harper.
Jon Anderson was named Deputy Commissioner, Family Independence. He most recently served as Chief Deputy Division Director with DFCS, where he began his career as a caseworker for food stamps, AFDC (now called TANF), and Medicaid in 1993. Anderson served in a variety of supervisory and management roles prior to his appointment in 2006 as the Office of Family Independence Section Director. In this role, he supervised policy development and procedures for all OFI programs for three years before transferring to the Department of Community Health. There, he served as Deputy Chief of Medicaid. Upon returning to DFCS, Anderson served as the project leader of the integrated eligibility system, Georgia Gateway, which was implemented in September 2017. He is a graduate of Murray State University in Kansas and resides in Suwanee with his wife, Kari. The two have one daughter, Lily.
Tanguler Gray was named Deputy Commissioner, Aging Services and Child Support Services. She previously served as Deputy Commissioner and Child Support Administrator for DHS. Before that, she was Director for the Division of Child Support Services. Gray is Six Sigma Green Belt certified and has more than 26 years of leadership and child support related experience with DHS. She is a pragmatic executive leader with a proven track record in government accounting, fiscal operations, customer service, organizational effectiveness, and field, state, and agency-level operations. Gray holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and has served as a board member of the National Child Support Enforcement Association for the past six years. She is currently serving a second term as a board member of the Eastern Regional Intergovernmental Child Support Association. Gray lives in Covington and has one daughter and one son.
Stephen Harris was named General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer. He was previously General Counsel for DHS. He joined the Department in January 2012, originally serving as the Legal Policy Specialist for the Division of Child Support Services and later as an Associate General Counsel. Harris also served as DHS Deputy General Counsel and Privacy Officer before becoming General Counsel in 2019. Prior to joining the Department, he was the Staff Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit. Harris holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and law degree from Brooklyn Law School. He lives in Tucker with his wife, Alison, who is a social worker.
Breanna Thomas was named Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Operations. Thomas began her career in public service in the Office of the Georgia Secretary of State. There, she served as the Elections Training Administrator and Interim Election Systems Manager, assigned to help manage the Georgia Voter Registration System. Most recently, she served as Deputy Director of Election Services in the Secretary of State’s Office. Thomas received her undergraduate degree in financial planning from the University of Georgia. She is a DeKalb County native and resides in Lithonia with her fiancé, Brandon, and dog, Lucci.
Clifford O'Connor was named Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Finance. He has worked in government finance for 40 years, with the last 17 spent as the Fiscal Manager for DFCS. Prior positions include Director of Human Services for Milwaukee County Human Services, Chief Financial Officer for Milwaukee County Human Services, Deputy Director for Santa Clara County Department of Social Services, Budget Director for the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Budget Analyst for the Office of the Governor in Illinois, and Finance Analyst for the U.S. Treasury Office of Market Analysis and Agency Finance. O'Connor has a bachelor's degree in economics from Bucknell University and master's degree in government management from the University of Wisconsin. He lives with his wife in Sandy Springs, and has two adult sons.
Tahni Segars was named Assistant Deputy Commissioner, External Affairs. She most recently served as Director of the DHS Office of Communications. She has 13 years of experience in communications, marketing, and graphic design. Before coming to DHS as a Design & Content Manager in 2016, she worked in several marketing and communications roles at the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, a construction management firm, and a law practice. Segars also spent three years working for a daily newspaper in Gainesville. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Georgia.
Kylie Harrod was named Director, Communications. She previously served as Public Affairs Writer for the Georgia Department of Transportation. Immediately prior to joining GDOT, she was the Communications Manager for the Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp. Harrod previously served as a Communications Specialist for Governor Kemp, Deputy Press Secretary for Kelly Loeffler for U.S. Senate, and Volunteer Coordinator for Kemp for Governor. Harrod, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Georgia State University, resides in McDonough.