DHS Director Hawkins Receives Unanimous Senate Approval
PROVIDENCE, R.I. The Rhode Island Senate unanimously approved Courtney E. Hawkins as Director for the Department of Human Services Tuesday afternoon.
The native Rhode Islander and current Providence resident, started the role in an acting capacity on June 12.
"This is an unbelievably difficult job and position," said Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, just before the vote, "… but I can't think of anyone more qualified."
Sen. Paul Jabour, D-Providence, Hawkins representative, and Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, also emphasized Hawkins wealth of experience when they voiced their support for Governor Gina Raimondo's nominee.
Hawkins brings nearly 17 years of accrued skills, including interning at a social service agency located in downtown New York City during 9/11, and helping develop and implement its response to the attack. She also provided case management to the victims.
She later returned to the agency and rose through the ranks to eventually become one of its senior vice presidents overseeing workforce, education and youth services for more than 25,000 individuals annually.
Hawkins came back to Rhode Island 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.
"All of the responsibilities and experiences she has had in the last two years will suit her very well," said Jabour. "I compliment the governor on this choice, it's an excellent choice… It is a big job, but this individual is the right person at the right time."
In her recent confirmation hearing, Hawkins said her priorities include further improving RIBridges, supporting staff, bettering the customer experience and helping the individuals and families with whom we work with to achieve long term success.
"I care about moving kids and families out of poverty," Hawkins said then. "That has been my life's work and to me in this state, DHS is the department where we have the biggest opportunity to accomplish that."
She also said, "There is no place I would rather be and no job I would rather have."
In addition to DHS staff, Hawkins parents and 2-year-old daughter, Emilia, were with her at the vote.