Leadership changes taking place at DHSS, including deputy secretary

NEW CASTLE — Molly Magarik, secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, announced Friday five leadership changes for the organization, involving four divisions and one of the department’s deputy secretary positions.

Sarah Noonan Davis, who has served in leadership roles at the University of Delaware and Westside Family Healthcare, has been named deputy secretary for special populations, strategic planning and innovation.

She will oversee the divisions of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities Services, Visually Impaired and Management Services.

Ms. Noonan Davis previously served as director of corporate and foundation relations at the University of Delaware and as deputy director and associate deputy director at Westside Family Healthcare, a federally qualified health center, with facilities in New Castle and Kent counties.

She graduated from the University of Delaware in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and in 2006 with a Master of Public Administration. She is working on her Doctorate of Urban Affairs and Public Policy from UD.

She replaces Lisa Bond, who left DHSS for a position in the private sector. Ms. Noonan Davis, who lives in Wilmington, will begin her role March 1, and will join Tanisha Merced, who serves as deputy secretary of policy and social services for DHSS.

Together with Ms. Magarik, they will ensure that the service delivery and support for DHSS leadership, staff, community partners and clients remain strong during the COVID-19 pandemic, while beginning to advance the goals and initiatives outlined in the DHSS strategic plan.

“In her role as deputy secretary, Sarah Noonan Davis will bring her experience serving Delawareans in various roles and also her countless community relationships to help lead our agency during these critical times,” Ms. Magarik said. “Until the pandemic is over and all Delawareans who want the vaccine have received it, our highest priority is continuing to coordinate with our providers on service delivery, along with the services that DHSS provides directly to people in need.

“In addition, Sarah’s talents and skills will be critical as our agency, staff, providers and clients make the transition to a post-COVID world, and we refocus on meeting the needs of the communities we serve.”

In addition to the deputy secretary announcement, Ms. Magarik also announced these leadership changes:

• Dava Newnam, who has been director of the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities and has served in various roles at DHSS for 20 years, has been named director of the Division of Management Services.

Ms. Newnam will serve as the chief operating officer for the department, with responsibilities of managing a $3 billion budget and 3,500 employees.

As director of DSAAPD since August 2017, Ms. Newnam led more than 700 employees and was responsible for directing the state-run Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna; community-facing units serving about 20,000 vulnerable Delawareans older than 60; and the Adult Protective Services unit, which protects vulnerable adults who are at risk of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation.

She has earned degrees in psychology from St. Petersburg Junior College and Delaware Technical Community College. Ms. Newnam, who lives in Wilmington with her family, will begin her new role Monday.

• Melissa Smith, who has been deputy director of the DSAAPD since November 2018, has been named its director.

Ms. Smith has served in various roles at DHSS for the past 16 years, including as planning supervisor and long-term care planner in DSAAPD and deputy director and director of planning at the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Before joining DHSS, she served as an analyst with the Government Accountability Office and the Office of Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Justice. Ms. Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Delaware and also a master’s degree in urban affairs and public policy. Ms. Smith, who lives in Newark with her family, will begin her new role Monday.

• Thomas Killian Jr., who has been serving as regional director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Western Psychiatric Hospital, has been named director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. He will begin his new role Jan. 19.

Alexis Teitelbaum, who has been serving as acting director for DSAMH will return to her previous role as deputy director.

Mr. Killian, who is a licensed behavior specialist, has more than 14 years in behavioral health services, including the past eight in leadership positions at nonprofits and university-affiliated psychiatric institutes and clinics.

Since April, in his role as regional director at Western Psychiatric Hospital, he has led efforts to provide stability and standardization of the behavioral health service line over three hospitals, in Altoona, Pennsylvania; Somerset, Pennsylvania; and Cumberland, Maryland, and has provided oversight for both inpatient and ambulatory services within these hospitals and communities.

He supervised department heads, presided over training and was responsible for fiscal management, hiring, building relationships with partners, clients and community, and strategic planning.

He previously served as executive director at Garrett County Lighthouse Inc. in Oakland, Maryland; associated clinical director at Keystone Human Services in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; primary inpatient therapist at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute in Harrisburg; and program manager at Pennsylvania Treatment & Healing in Pottsville.

Mr. Killian earned a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, both from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania; and a Master of Science in psychology from the University of Phoenix. He is working toward a Doctorate of Philosophy in psychology from Northcentral University in Scottsdale, Arizona.

• Faith Mwaura, who has been a senior social services administrator in the Division of State Service Centers, has been appointed as its deputy director.

Ms. Mwaura, who has been with the division since 2010, previously served as social services administrator, where her duties included administering federal grants and state-funded community food programs and developing the Community Services Block Grant State Plan.

Her current duties as a member of the division’s leadership team include monitoring, directing and overseeing federal, state and private funding that benefits low-income and vulnerable Delawareans.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Wisconsin Lutheran College and a master’s degree in urban development and public policy from the University of Delaware. Ms. Mwaura replaces Cynthia Manlove, who retired after almost 40 years of service to DHSS. Ms. Mwaura, who lives in New Castle with her family, will begin her new role Jan. 17.

“I am excited to have these five individuals in these critical positions,” Ms. Magarik said. “They all have important experience in reaching out to employees, clients, providers and other community partners; innovating even during challenging circumstances; and doing the hard work of strategic planning.

“I want to offer a special thanks to Alexis Teitelbaum for her leadership of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health for the past four months, and I know she will help provide important support to Thomas Killian as he transitions into his role.”