SALT LAKE CITY — As a veteran human services and nonprofit organization administrator from Louisiana, Ann Silverberg Williamson is no stranger to the profound and varied needs of children and families.
For the past four years, Williamson has worked as a leader in Louisiana's nonprofit community. From 2001 to 2008, she worked up the ranks of the state's social services department, starting as a deputy responsible for its Office of Family Support to appointment as Cabinet secretary of the department in 2004, overseeing 5,000 employees.
Her tenure included response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Williamson received a unanimous recommendation Tuesday from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for her nomination as executive director of the Utah Department of Human Services.
That favorable recommendation now proceeds to the Utah Senate.
The job, Williamson said, aligns with her skills, conviction and experience serving those who may be most vulnerable in the community, including men, women and children impacted by mental illness, autism, suicide, foster care, child support needs and other concerns.
"I realize these are your constituents, and your concern is that we meet them, wherever they are, and then most effectively and efficiently ensure that their goals for life and their own well-being are realized," Williamson said. "This is work that I love. This is work that I am called to do."
The committee questioned Williamson about work with subcontractors, what she learned in her time in the private sector, her initial impressions of the department she will be leading, and how she would navigate Utah's tight budgets or a federal government shutdown.
Williamson indicated much of her leadership philosophy entails seeking community participation and guidance, cooperation with other state departments and careful prioritization to ensure efficient and compassionate service.
"I'm happy to say to you all and to the state of Utah I'm going to be inviting you to the table," Williamson said. "I'm going to want to know who needs to be at the table from the private sector, because you, if I'm speaking to the private sector, have every bit at stake that we do in the public sector for the interests of our children and families."