Gov. Jay Inslee has named Cheryl Strange secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services. Strange has served as chief executive officer of Western State Hospital since April 2016. Strange replaces acting DSHS secretary Bill Moss.
“DSHS serves many of our state’s most vulnerable adults and children. Cheryl brings the strategic management skills needed to head up this agency, and also works with an inspiring level of compassion and care,” Inslee said. “I have full confidence in her abilities to successfully direct this agency, which is responsible for the health, wellness and safety of so many Washington residents. I look forward to working with Cheryl in this new role and welcoming her to my cabinet.”
Prior to her leadership at Western State Hospital, Strange was the assistant director for the DSHS Mental Health Division, where she managed the state's public mental health system, including the state’s three hospitals, and community outpatient mental health services. She managed a staff of 2,000 and oversaw a $900 million annual budget. She was responsible for compliance with the home and community-based services federal waiver, and successful accreditation by the Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Strange has served as vice president of the Behavioral Health Division at Pioneer Human Services, where she had executive oversight of 23 privately operated mental health programs. She also served as assistant secretary for Health Services and as deputy secretary at the state Department of Corrections.
Strange holds a bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College and a master’s in public administration from Seattle University.
She has received certification in management and leadership from the University of Washington School of Social Work, and a certificate in healthcare policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
A national search was conducted by Karras Consulting to fill the position.
Moss will remain as acting secretary until Strange begins her new role on Sept. 18, 2017.
“I thank Bill for his leadership and service during this time of transition,” Inslee said. “He is tremendously respected among a broad range of stakeholders and will continue to be a critical part of the DSHS leadership team.”
A search for a new CEO at Western State Hospital is underway.