Gov.-Elect Baker Hires New DCF Chief, Veterans' Affairs Secretary

Governor-elect Charlie Baker has recruited the child welfare advocate who led an independent probe of the Department of Children and Families to join his administration as DCF commissioner, according a Baker transition official.

Linda Spears, the current vice president of the Child Welfare League of America, will return to Massachusetts from Washington, D.C. to take the helm of the scrutinized agency.

Spears once worked for nearly a decade in the Department of Social Services in Massachusetts in the 1980s, and already has a familiarity with the strengths and weaknesses of the agency after doing an independent audit of DCF this year for the Patrick administration following the disappearance and death of a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy under state supervision.

The Child Welfare League report found poor case management in the agency and recommended additional funding for the agency to hire more social workers to reduce caseloads and to equip caseworkers with new technology.

Baker, who takes office on Thursday, also plans to announce Francisco Urena as secretary of Veterans' Services. Urena, who was appointed by the late Mayor Thomas Menino as commissioner of veterans' services for the city of Boston in 2011, will replace Coleman Nee.

Health and Human Services Secretary designate Marylou Sudders is also rounding out her team, tapping a pair of top advisors to outgoing Senate President Therese Murray for her team. Murray's chief of staff and Senate legal counsel Alice Moore will take over as undersecretary of health and human services, and Murray's chief policy advisor Lisa Dixon will handle legislative affairs for the executive branch's largest secretariat.

Rhonda Mann, chief marketing officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, will also join Sudders team as communications director.


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