Gov. Jay Inslee today named Tara C. Smith the director of the Washington Department of Enterprise Services (DES) effective Sept. 7. She replaces Chris Liu who departed the agency earlier this year.
As director of the Internal Services Department for Miami-Dade County since 2015, she was responsible for the management of 1,000 employees and an operational budget of $317 million and a capital budget of $500 million. She managed an agency that provides services similar to DES in one of the county’s largest operational agencies, including: facilities, security, centralized procurement, capital program management, real estate, business resources, risk management and fleet management. She spearheaded the first social infrastructure public-private partnership project in the region, and established the county’s first public-private partnership office for future development of critical infrastructure. Her oversight of centralized public procurement methods and implementation of social equity contracting principles will continue to advance DES's vision and goals.
Smith is a native Floridian who has worked in public service in Miami-Dade County for the past 17 years. In the county, she worked as chief deputy supervisor of elections, manager of strategic initiatives and as assistant Director of the Internal Services Department before being promoted to director. Before working for the county, she worked with Foster Care Review, a volunteer-based not-for-profit organization that worked to assist courts in judicial reviews for children in foster care.
“Tara is no stranger to running a large, complex government agency and I have no doubt that she will hit the ground running here in Washington,” Inslee said. “She has a proven track record of developing inclusive teams and ensuring effective government service. I look forward to working with Tara to support the employees and residents of Washington across the state. I would also like to thank Annette Meyer for her leadership leading the agency over the last two months.”
“I am humbled to be selected for this important position,” Smith said. “Based on my experience leading these operations at a local level, I am confident that I will help advance the agency's goals and look forward to working with DES employees and community stakeholders to make that happen collaboratively. ”
Smith is active in her community, serving on the Women’s Leadership Executive Council for the United Way of Miami-Dade, as a Girl Scout troop leader and as an advisory board member of Casa Valentina, Inc., a non-profit centered around supporting children in foster care.
She earned her bachelor’s degree and Master’s of Public Administration from Florida International University, where she was recently awarded the Public Service Distinguished Alumni Award.
Photo of Tara C. Smith.