On June 12, 2017, Courtney Hawkins started as the new Director Nominee of the state's Department of Human Services.
The Rhode Island native, a South Kingstown High School graduate, brings nearly 17 years of accrued skills with her to lead the agency's dedicated staff. She interned at the Training School, working with its social worker and school psychologist, while studying psychology at the University of Rhode Island. She taught math at Ocean Tides School, in Narragansett, before receiving her Masters of Science in Social Work from Columbia University.
Director Nominee Hawkins interned in a social service agency located in downtown New York City during 9/11, and helped develop and implement its response to the attack. She also provided case management to the victims. Director Nominee Hawkins returned to RI to be the first executive director of Providence Talks, a successful program designed to reduce the language development gaps of some of our youngest residents. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza later made her his Chief Policy Officer where she managed the state capital's relationship with the School Department and oversaw other key departments including Sustainability, Healthy Communities, Intergovernmental Affairs and the Office of Economic Opportunity.
"I care about moving kids and families out of poverty," said Director Nominee Hawkins. "That has been my life's work. That is why I do everything that I do, and to me in this state, DHS is the department where we have the biggest opportunity to accomplish that… This is the place I want to be."
She is dedicated to showcasing the department's many programs and services – and the staff that make that work possible.