The nomination of Womazetta Jones, the current Director of Social Services in Ramsey County, Minnesota, drew praise for Jones from health and human services leaders in Rhode Island and Minnesota. Hear what they had to say:
"Courageous leadership is a rarity at times. I can tell you that Womazetta is that type of leader. She is not afraid to say, 'Wait. This is not equitable. It needs to be fixed.' There's no ego driving her decisions, just her genuine desire to serve people and serve them to the best of our ability as a society.
-Stacy Hennen, Director of Social Services for Grant County and Pope County, Minnesota
"Womazetta Jones' passion and insight into how best to support vulnerable children and teens will be a tremendous asset to Rhode Island. She values health and human service collaborations and has built a reputation for bringing everyone – providers, consumers, advocates, and insurers – to the table to solve common problems."
-Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.
"Rhode Island should expect diligent, committed leadership from Womazetta. She has led a team of human services professionals focused on getting it right for the people of this county. Part of that means going out of her way to ensure that the best customer service possible is delivered. Ramsey County is going to miss her tremendously."
-Toni Carter, County Commissioner, Ramsey County, Minnesota
"Womazetta has been 100 percent supportive of me and the work of my agency, as she is with other providers. Regardless of the issues that arise, I've seen her as a strong leader who is always authentic and transparent. Her commitment to ensuring that the needs of marginalized communities are met will become very clear in Rhode Island."
-Jody Nelson, Executive Director, Guadalupe Alternative Programs, a Minnesota provider of school-linked mental health services, among other area.
"Womazetta Jones' ability to provide thoughtful strategy and promote collaboration will inform and inspire a sector undergoing significant change. From the transition to a value-based care model from one focused on fee-for-service to the ever-changing needs of our underserved populations, I am confident that Womazetta's leadership and passion will effect positive outcomes that benefit all Rhode Islanders."
-Kim Keck, president and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island
"The Economic Progress Institute welcomes Womazetta Jones to Rhode Island. The Secretary of EOHHS has an exciting and challenging job – supporting each of the departments in providing excellent service for their particular constituents as well as bringing the departments, consumers and community stakeholders together to ensure health, economic security and independence for the hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders who depend upon the departments' diverse services. We look forward to continuing this journey with Ms. Jones, who brings a wealth of experience and passion to the position."
-Linda Katz, JD, Policy Director, Economic Progress Institute
"This is obviously a big loss for us and a big gain for Rhode Island. Womazetta Jones cares about the most vulnerable in our community. She speaks the truth and pushes everyone around her to keep the agency's mission front and center. She is a tireless advocate, and I have no doubt she'll get results."
-The Honorable Mark Ireland, District Court Judge, Second Judicial District, St. Paul, Minnesota
"Womazetta is a seasoned public sector professional and a strong leader, who has experience developing policy and managing multiple human service agencies. Most importantly, as a line worker, she walked the walk. She is passionate about improving health equity and addressing racial and economic disparities for all, particularly those served by EOHHS. She has demonstrated and is committed to having community voices at the table when making decisions. I'm excited to welcome Womazetta to Rhode Island."
-Linda D'Amario Rossi, former DCYF Director, Rhode Island