Polk welcomes new human services director

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2017

COLUMBUS – Polk County has hired its first consolidated human service director.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Feb. 20 and heard from county manager Marche Pittman, who announced that the county’s consolidated human service agency (CHSA) has selected Joshua Kennedy as its new director.

The county agreed last year to consolidate its human service departments and to hire a director to oversee those departments, which include the department of social services (DSS), transportation, senior services and veterans services.

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Kennedy will begin his employment with the county on March 7.

The county is paying Kennedy a base salary of approximately $60,000.

Kennedy will be engaged in all aspects of human services, according to Pittman, as well as working with Polk County’s partners in the county and the region.

“Mr. Kennedy has both a passion for people and experience in administrative operations and organizations,” stated a release from Polk County. “Mr. Kennedy is coming on board at an exciting time for the county and agency. The agency and partners are engaged in numerous activities to promote and enhance services to the public, support families and improve the wellbeing of those in the community. Mr. Kennedy has been engaged in several of these regional activities already and will bring additional energy and focus to the operations.”

Kennedy was previously the assistant health director for the Rutherford Polk McDowell District Health Department. Kennedy was responsible for programing and administrative operations, including financial/billing, information technology and EMR/HIE. Kennedy also maintained leadership roles on several collaborative efforts, according to the county’s release, in all three counties and brought successful implementation of innovative programs designed to address the social determinants of health factors of residents and those who work in those counties. Kennedy also served as a volunteer for the annual Hospice Spaghetti dinner and was a member of the Marion Rotary Club.

“The agency serves numerous functions for our community whether it is assisting families and individuals through our DSS offices, providing transportation for community members, or coordinating efforts between partners,” said Kennedy. “These critical functions are supported by the CHSA but also by a number of peer organizations in Polk County. Prior to this position I have had the privilege to work with several of the community groups, non-profits, and agencies and have constantly been impressed by the level of dedication to those we serve in the community and know we will see continued success together. Together, I look forward to addressing the complex situations that periodically arise in our community, supporting the good work already underway, and seeking innovative ways to increase positive outcomes for our neighbors and friends through these collaborative efforts.”

During the county’s Feb. 20 meeting, commissioners welcomed Kennedy to the county and to the new position.

Pittman told commissioners the county received more than a dozen applications for the position and searched locally, statewide and nationwide since last July. Pittman said the county is happy to have Kennedy on board and he’s hoping the consolidated human services agency is going to be better off with Kennedy there.

“We are very excited to have Josh move into this role with our team,” Pittman said this week. “I have worked with Josh on previous projects and I know he is dedicated to improving the lives of those we serve. Josh brings a unique skillset that includes project management capabilities, a high appreciation of customer service, and organizational management experience. We look forward to this transition and additional support for our county.”