Slight shake-up in DHSS leadership announced

DOVER — The Department of Health and Social Services announced today that the agency’s deputy secretary job will be split into two positions. The former officeholder took the helm at DHSS this summer.

Tanisha M. Merced will be deputy secretary of policy and social services, while Lisa Bond will work as deputy secretary for operations and special populations.

“In their roles as deputy secretary, Tanisha Merced and Lisa Bond will be counted on to help lead our agency during these critical times,” Secretary Molly Magarik said in a statement.

“During COVID-19, coordinating with our providers on service delivery, along with the services that DHSS provides directly to people in need, are our highest priority. This division of the deputy secretary role, with a separate and distinct focus for each, will help us to better meet the needs of our clients and community partners during the pandemic.”

The agency, which employs about 4,000 people and makes up more than a quarter of the state budget, has 11 different divisions responsible for a wide range of services.

Lawmakers formed a committee in 2019 that examined splitting up DHSS, which Ms. Magarik acknowledged today, saying the move “will allow us to provide more support for division leadership as we refocus on the 21st-century needs of our staff, our clients and the community as a whole” in the coming months.

Ms. Magarik had been deputy secretary under Kara Odom Walker, who departed DHSS a few months ago after three-and-a-half years. Ms. Magarik’s replacements, Ms. Merced and Ms. Bond, already worked in state government.

Ms. Merced, who will oversee the divisions of Social Services, State Service Centers and Child Support Services, was deputy insurance commissioner in the Department of Insurance. She will begin with DHSS on Sept. 16.

Ms. Bond has worked for DHSS for 26 years and currently heads the Division of Management Services. In addition to that subagency, she will oversee the divisions of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities Services and Visually Impaired.

Among other concerns, she also will handle budgetary duties.