Former Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services Director Heather Skeens resigned abruptly from that position in late 2021.
However, heading into the New Year, Guilford County has named a new interim director for social services.
Sharon Tutterow Barlow, a 12-year veteran of the department, has been named interim director of the Department of Social Services. During her time with Guilford County, Barlow has acted as a division director for both Economic Services and Children’s Services within the department, as well as served as the department’s deputy director.
Guilford County DSS is huge and is known for being difficult to manage. About nine years ago, the department had such a massive scandal of deceit and inefficiency that that the Guilford County DSS put food and nutrition benefits for the entire state of North Carolina in jeopardy.
Barlow started her social services career with a job at the Caldwell County Department of Social Services where she served as a Child Protective Services social worker and supervisor. (Caldwell County is a western county with Lenoir as the county seat.)
All in all, Barlow has over 30 years of social services experience as well as what county officials say are “strong leadership skills, a focus on staff engagement, and an emphasis on community collaboration which make her uniquely qualified to take on this new role.”
They added that Barlow has been instrumental in reorganizing Guilford County DSS in an effort to maximize efficiency and provide quality service.
Barlow issued this comment upon being named interim director: “I am excited for the opportunity to continue to serve Guilford County. I am proud of the work that we do and very proud of our staff who are committed to providing excellent service to our community.”
Victor Isler, a brand new assistant county manager for Guilford County, stated that he’s “appreciative of Sharon’s longstanding commitment to the Department of Social Services” and is “excited to work shoulder-to-shoulder with her during this transformative period.”
Barlow completed her undergraduate studies at Appalachian State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in social work. She has said that she was drawn to social work due to her own childhood experience when her parents served as foster parents for The Children’s Home Society of North Carolina. Barlow’s parents did so for a decade and a half, providing care to over 50 kids.
Barlow was born and raised in Greensboro and now lives in the city with her husband. They’re members of First Baptist Church in Greensboro and have two children who are now both students at Appalachian State University.