Guilford County department directors, employees and other county officials were stunned on Friday, Oct. 29 as word spread that Guilford County’s Department of Health and Human Services Director Heather Skeens was stepping down from the position she took almost exactly one year ago.
Skeens was one of the most important department directors in the county – and she was perhaps the second most powerful administrator. As Health and Human Services director, she oversaw two giant and critical departments that together encompass more than a third of the county’s employees: the Social Services Department and the Department of Public Health, which are now combined into one mega-department in Guilford County.
The county’s health services have been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Skeens, who was hired as the county’s social services director about seven years ago to clean up a host of problems in the department at that time, didn’t state her reason for leaving in her resignation letter.
According to one source who has seen the letter, it “was written in all the politically correct language with positive statements,” but did not explain her exit.
One high-ranking county official said it was common for Skeens to get very good offers from elsewhere.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said on Friday afternoon that he was aware Skeens was leaving but he declined to elaborate.
Skeens, who received a great deal of praise from coworkers and Guilford County commissioners over the years, was named as Guilford County Health and Human Services director last October after a national search for a new director attracted nearly 100 applicants.
After a long closed session at the end of a county commissioner work session in mid-October of last year, the commissioners voted to approve the recommendation of former Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing, who, as county manager, had assumed the duties of the Health and Human Services director.
Former Health and Human Services Director Joe Raymond also interestingly left the job after serving for exactly one year.
About seven years ago, Skeens took over a social services department that was in total disarray and carried a massive backlog of food and nutrition benefits. The scandal and cover-up that occurred before her arrival placed all the food and nutrition benefits for the entire state of North Carolina in jeopardy.
Skeens came in with what many considered a “tough” approach that cleared up the problems quickly. However, many employees in the department complained about certain changes and the new tight controls. Some Health and Human Services top staff stepped down at the time – but it isn’t clear if that was because they were asked to leave or just chose to move on.
Maybe the City can find a “minority” to fill the position!!!!! Seems everything is going in that direction anyway. I’m sure there will NOT be a WHITE MAN hired for the position. There never is anymore.
It is a County job.
Sometimes being a white man is not the only damn skill set you need !!!!!!!!!!!
Do you even read the articles? It’s a county job.
Best wishes to you ma’am. I hope they find a new leader for the welfare queen department soon. There are a lot more of us who would go today if we were able. We’ve come too far to give up when retirement is finally in sight. Those of us who carry the load that once upon a time was done by 3 or more are growing weary watching the stereotypical government employees who never miss a break or lift a finger get a free pass, higher wages due to compression, and now a 5% raise with no merit necessary. Those will be the next directors or whatever since they fit the affirmative action check boxes.
Oh, so Heather will quietly leave before the storm? Hhhmmm??? What goes around, comes around or should I say…when you dig a hole for someone, better dig 2!!!
Will she join her ‘ole pal’ Marty in Florida?
I’m sure Guilford Co., is throwing a party about now. Just like Cumberland Co did when she left there!
The good ones will leave this mess.Get used to it.
Forgive me; I consider myself fairly well educated and au fait with current affairs, but I have no idea what the “Department of Health & Human Services” does. “Human Services” sounds like a euphemism for prostitution. And as a libertarian I see nothing that ought to be illegal in that. But I didn’t know the government provided it.
“Health”, in the argot of government, sounds like sickness…in other words you need to see a doctor.
So what do these people do, exactly?
And why are they paid so handsomely?
They enforce the mask mandate.
Reason for leaving: SKIP ALSTON
What? I know they do a lot of other things but the thing that I’m most familiar with as a teacher is the fact they said nurses to our school so we can properly administer health Care to medically fragile students. We have meetings with their parents and a nurse to understand the child’s health issues and how to help if emergencies strike. I’ve been taught how to help kids administer their inhalers if needed, type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in children when they’re babies. Though it takes time for them to be able to administer their insulin and watch their sugar to live healthy productive lives. We help the children learn how to do that in school. I’ve also trained on what to do if a child has a seizure. That’s just one thing everything else is public knowledge if you really like to look it up. The other thing is “paid so handsomely”? They’re not paid that great also public knowledge because they’re government officials. Go look it up. If you don’t know how, ask somebody, but don’t just make random claims. Also in our local government we have a lot of minorities we also have a lot of minorities that live here! So it makes sense that a lot of minorities work in government positions especially lower paid ones most of the higher paid government jobs are taken up by white men, I’m not judging it’s just a fact. Also, since I said that it’s not paid that great a lot of white men have better opportunities working in the corporate world. Why would they want to deal with people and all of their complaints when they can make more money and work in an office? On top of that if you’re going to hire healthcare worker most healthcare workers other than doctors are women. You have to look at your applicant pool which includes a lot of women and a decent amount of minorities. Not everything’s a conspiracy. Most people are just doing their everyday things having their everyday lives.
What the hell are you talking about?
And let me guess… you work in the public sector?
About time you admitted your own ignorance. Good on you Austin. Maybe you should keep working on your education.
They help people in need. They help the elderly, children and adults. They with financial needs, housing needs, elder care, foster care etc… It is services such as these that make America Great. Whether you like it or not.
Ah so…the government “helps people in need”. Well that’s the whole schtick, isn’t it? That is the pretext upon which they forcibly take away our money. “It’s for the children”…etc.
But let’s tell the truth. These gargantuan bureaucracies become an end in themselves, a welfare work program for the incompetent, the stupid, the unambitious, and the idle.
All families have needs. The decent people take care of it. The idle and feckless make others pay for their needs.
Well clearly you, Martin, Joe and Will would never reach out and help someone in need. So yeah, we have the government. They are in no way perfect and certainly not the most efficient organization….but at least I don’t have to count on you.
I always admired President Coolidge’s writings on government. He believed a smaller governments meant a more efficient government. Not outsourcing public service to private industry which only cares about profit. And certainly not counting on the good nature of others which seems to be declining daily in the US.
Guilford County has 871 #COVID19 fatalities.
Wake County has 888 COVID19 fatalities.
Wake County is twice our size.
888 X .483 = 429 – 871 = 442 more Guilford fatalities than Wake, for its size.
How many more Guilford County citizens must die needlessly from #COVID19 before we declare war on the elected politicians who fail to adequately fund and staff our health department?
#NATO is inexorably marching to war against #Russia in #Ukraine.
#China will likely respond by taking Taiwan.
With illegal immigrants swarming over our Southern border and states acting to stop the federal #COVID19 vaccine mandate, our Union has been torn asunder.
Now is the time to prepare for war.
Guilford County will be North Carolina’s first battleground.
Go hide in your closet and stay there. We will let you know when it is safe for you to come out again.
Skip want a new director. . . one that fits his “image”.
Another inefficient and ineffective bureaucracy full of people who took the job because of job security, good benefits, and the knowledge that they can take it nice n’ easy, no need to ever strain themselves.
My God there are some idiots in these comments smh