Delaware’s Human Resources secretary confirmed by Senate

Saundra Ross Johnson

DOVER — The Delaware Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to confirm Saundra Ross Johnson as secretary of the Department of Human Resources. The agency was created in July.

Ms. Johnson, who has served as acting secretary since July, was director of the Delaware State Housing Authority from 2000 to 2009.

The new department was created in response to allegations of racism and was recommended by Gov. John Carney’s transition team. It consists of the divisions of Personnel Management, Diversity and Inclusion, Labor Relations, Statewide Benefits and Women’s Advancement.

Until the agency’s formation, Delaware had not had a dedicated HR agency since the State Personnel Office was split up in 2005.

Wednesday’s confirmation process was smooth, with lawmakers posing only a few questions to Ms. Johnson. She was first approved by the Senate Executive Committee, with all six members voting in favor of the nomination.

During the committee hearing, Ms. Johnson said she hopes to recruit talented people to the state and ensure they are trained well.

“Personally, I am a consensus builder,” she said. “I make organization out of sometimes a chaotic situation, and some might describe me as a visionary who also executes.”

When the department was created, officials said it would be budget-neutral — something Ms. Johnson said she has worked to maintain.

“I know Sandy well, and believe she has the right mix of experience, leadership skills, and thoughtfulness to help us get this department off the ground, and make a real difference for state employees,” Gov. Carney said when he named her acting secretary.

“This new department will tackle issues important to our employees, and will help us operate more efficiently across state agencies. I’m confident that Sandy is the right person for the job. Thank you to members of the General Assembly for their leadership in helping create this agency to focus attention and resources on state government’s most important asset — our employees.”

Ms. Johnson is the 16th member of Gov. Carney’s cabinet. At least seven other cabinet officials watched her confirmation hearing from the Senate Wednesday.

Secretary of Labor Patrice Gilliam-Johnson, a holdover from the previous administration, remains unconfirmed. The governor is expected to formally nominate someone for the secretary of labor post this month.

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