“I applaud the selection of Edward Lake as the next director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services,” Fallin said. “With experience at nearly every level of the Tennessee Department of Human Services, Ed understands the challenges of managing an agency that interacts with the public at many levels. He has proven himself an effective leader who was able to work with the agency and external stakeholder to improve the quality of services delivered to clients.
“The ongoing reforms at the Department of Human Services, including the implementation of the Pinnacle Plan, will help improve the delivery of child welfare services in Oklahoma. I’m confident Ed Lake can provide the leadership at DHS to help us ensure the state is providing adequate protection and care to vulnerable Oklahoma children.”
Governor Fallin met in person on Wednesday with Lake.
“As voters consider a state question that would put the governor in charge of selecting the DHS director, I felt it important to meet in person with Ed Lake,” Fallin said. “I came away from that meeting impressed by his quality and character and feel he’s a great choice to lead DHS.”
The governor said if State Question 765 is approved by voters in November, she has no plans to replace Lake as DHS director.
Governor Fallin thanked Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger, who had served as interim director of DHS since March.
“I appreciate Preston Doerflinger’s willingness to take on the challenge of serving as interim-director at DHS,” Fallin said. “Preston has been instrumental in my administration’s effort to deliver on the promise of more efficient and effective state government. During his time as interim-director at DHS, he provided leadership at the agency to implement reforms and improvements to move the agency forward.”
Doerflinger will resume his duties as director of the Office of State Finance.
Ed Lake Bio
Edward Lake, from Hendersonville, Tenn., has experience working at almost every level of the Tennessee DHS from 1973 until retiring in 2011. He served as a child welfare caseworker, a food stamp office supervisor, and as both a county and regional director in social services. He served as deputy commissioner of the agency from 1992 until 1996, as assistant commissioner from 1996 through 2003 when he was again named as deputy commissioner until his retirement in 2011.
Responsible for the day-to-day operations of TDHS, Lake managed the department’s more than 5,000 employees in all 95 counties of the state. The state agency administered programs including Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Programs (SNAP); Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); Medicaid; adult protective services; child care licensing; vocational rehabilitation, disability determination services; child support; appeals and hearings; as well as several federal community services programs.
Lake has extensive experience with organizational change and oversaw comprehensive restructuring of the agency. He worked to improve client services and build external support of the department’s efforts by working closely with advisory groups of advocates, legal aid staff, and other key external stakeholder groups.
During Lake’s tenure at TDHS, he was among key contributors to the development of the agency’s child welfare caseworker training academy and received a community service agency award for improving the department’s and the community’s child abuse services following a nationally publicized child abuse death. He also provided leadership for the design and implementation of sweeping child care licensing reforms in state statute and policy, including a statewide rated child care licensing system.
Lake led the department’s implementation of the first TANF program and chaired the Governor’s Task Force on Families First (TANF program) to develop comprehensive changes to the program. He provided leadership during the state’s emergency responses to Hurricane Katrina and developed an innovative method for providing immediate financial assistance to relocating victims through the use of “pre-loaded” electronic benefits cards.
Lake holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from East Tennessee University and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.