By Gina Macris
The search for a new director of developmental disability services in Rhode Island is well underway, even though the position has not yet been advertised.
Jane Gallivan, the interim director, has been drumming up interest in the job through her national network of contacts in the field of developmental disability services. In an interview Sept. 13, she said she has spoken to several likely candidates.
One of the reasons Gallivan was recruited for the post on an interim basis was her ability to tap into the leadership network in developmental disability services across the country, according to Jennifer Wood, Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Gallivan, a longtime director of developmental disabilities in Maine and more recently in Delaware, belongs to the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS).
Recent directors have not been required to have any particular expertise in serving adults with intellectual challenges. But that will change with revisions to the job description, which Gallivan said she hopes to complete by the end of the week.
An ad Gallivan sent Thursday to NASDDDS said Rhode Island is looking for an experienced leader in the field who also has a track record in “affecting and driving change.”
The ad described Rhode Island as “undergoing a significant redesign in the delivery of services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families,” by focusing on putting individual needs first, boosting employment, and supporting families better.
Gallivan said the NASDDDS notice will reach hundreds of professionals in the field.
She also plans to spread the word through the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware, best known for training up-and-coming leaders in the field and helping build networks among them.
Next week, the position will be posted on the state’s employment website and then the process of screening applications will begin, Gallivan said.
Gallivan will serve on the screening committee, along with Jennifer Wood, Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services; Brian Gosselin, Chief Strategy Officer at the Executive Office of Human Services (EOHHS); and Mary Madden.
Madden, based at EOHHS, coordinates the state’s efforts to comply with a federal consent decree that enforces a 1999 Olmstead decision of the U.S. Supreme Court mandating desegregation of developmental disability services nationwide.
Madden indicated Tuesday during a meeting of a task force empowered by the 2014 consent decree that there may be at least one “listening forum” at which members of the screening committee would hear comments from the public on the characteristics most desired in a new director.
The public may also write to the screening committee via the following email address: BHDDH.AskDD@bhddh.ri.gov , according to an EOHHS spokeswoman.
Neither Madden nor Gallivan could offer an official timeline for the appointment of a new director.
The screening committee will make recommendations to Elizabeth Roberts, Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Rebecca Boss, Interim Director of the Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, who will jointly make the selection.
In the short term, Gallivan will remain a consultant but will step down as interim director at the end of September because of family responsibilities.
While the Division of Developmental Disabilities awaits a new director, there will be a meeting of a team of administrators “every single morning” to go over issues that need follow-up that day, Gallivan said.
The administrators include Madden, Gosselin, Heather Mincey, administrator of the division; Anne LeClerc, the program improvement chief, and Tracey Cunningham, the chief employment specialist, Gallivan said.
The new director will have the primary responsibility for implementing policy changes driven by the consent decree, which requires that the state move away from sheltered workshops and other segregated programs toward a system of individualized services based in the community.
The division is part of BHDDH, but in the long run, it’s not clear where the director’s position will fit into the administrative structure.
EOHHS has taken the lead in shaping efforts to respond to the consent decree. And a spokeswoman acknowledged that the office is considering restructuring BHDDH, which also has jurisdiction over mental and behavioral healthcare and public hospitals.
Former BHDDH Director Maria Montanaro has said she does not believe all three kinds of services belong in one department. .
There is no timeline for a search for a new BHDDH director, according to the spokeswoman, Sophie O’Connell. Rather, the new director of developmental disability services is a top priority, she has said. O'Connell declined to elaborate on any restructuring options EOHHS might be considering. Structural changes would have to be approved by the General Assembly.