Gov. Jay Inslee today named Jilma Meneses secretary of the state Department of Social and Health Services. She replaces Don Clintsman who has been serving as acting secretary since May.
Meneses is currently the chief executive officer for Catholic Charities of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo where she leads the strategy, management and operations of 30 direct human services programs for children, families, older adults, people with disabilities and HIV/AIDS survivors. CCSF has a budget of more than $57 million and serves more than 60,000 people.
Prior to joining CCSF, Meneses was the executive vice president, chief operating officer and general counsel for Concordia University in Portland, Ore. She also served as the university’s interim dean of the school of law. Meneses worked as chief diversity officer at Portland State University.
At Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Meneses served as director of the risk management department, prior to that she was the director of the affirmative action and equal opportunity.
For 15 years she has acted in a pro-bono role as chief executive officer and general counsel for Our Family in Africa based in Camas to support children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She began her career at the Tri-County Metropolitan District of Oregon (Tri-Met), first as legal coordinator and legislative aide and then later as director of civil rights and compliance.
Meneses has been a Washington resident for the past 25 years, raising her family in the Camas area.
"Jilma has decades of experience leading complex organizations that provide health and human services. She is a transformational leader who has demonstrated that she can implement strategic and operational change while furthering the mission and creating a dynamic and supportive culture for staff," Inslee said. "I am pleased that she is bringing her dedication, passion and varied experience to benefit the people of Washington state. I look forward to working with her and welcoming her to my cabinet. I thank Don for stepping in as acting secretary and I know that he will continue to serve DSHS with distinction."
"I want to express my deepest gratitude to Governor Inslee for giving me this opportunity to make a greater impact in the lives of our fellow Washingtonians. It is an honor to partner with the dedicated servant leaders at the Department of Social & Health Services under the leadership of the governor. It will be a privilege to work with this accomplished and caring community who have modeled compassion and unwavering commitment to the most vulnerable Washingtonians," Meneses said. "I am humbled by the work of DSHS and all that has been accomplished under some of the most challenging circumstances most of us have ever faced. I look forward to walking with you in the next journey."
Meneses earned her law degree from Lewis & Clark Law School and her bachelor's degree from University of California, Berkeley.
With a mission of Transforming Lives, DSHS is Washington’s largest state agency encompassing a biennial budget of $16 billion, nearly 16,000 employees and 23,000 contracted service providers. The department serves some 2.4 million Washington residents each year through a wide range of programs and services including long-term care, behavioral health assistance, child and family support, vocational rehabilitation and employment, food and cash assistance.
Meneses' appointment is effective January 3, 2022.