Anita Friedman Appointed Department of Human Services Director

13 Jul
Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz has appointed Anita Friedman as Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS); she takes her position effective immediately. Ms. Friedman has been the department’s deputy director since 2013. Prior to becoming deputy director, Ms. Friedman served for six years as chief of the DHS Economic Independence Division. She stepped into an acting director role in May 2015 upon the retirement of Susanne Eisner.

 “Anita has played a leading role these past eight years in ensuring that we have a strong safety net for the most vulnerable residents of our community, from babies to older adults to people with disabilities,” said Schwartz. “As director, she can build upon that work and use her talents and expertise to take on new challenges and opportunities.”

As head of DHS, Friedman will lead a staff of more than 700 whose work is focused on strengthening, protecting and empowering those in need.

During her six-year stint as DHS Economic Independence Division chief, Ms. Friedman played a role in ensuring that Arlington households impacted by the economic downturn had access to federal, state and local resources to help them weather the storm. She oversaw a number of successful employment initiatives, including those devoted to finding jobs for Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)-affected workers, IT training for military veterans, and culinary training for people who were homeless. She also oversaw a major modernization of the department’s client management software. As deputy director, Ms. Friedman has played an integral role in department efforts related to performance measurement, integration of services and professional development.

Before joining Arlington County, Ms. Friedman worked for more than 20 years in international development, managing social and economic development programs, primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean. She has held positions as chief of operations for the Inter-America and Pacific Region of Peace Corps, country director of the Peace Corps/Dominican Republic, and chief operating officer for the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, D.C.

She has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College. She has lived in Arlington since 1990 with her husband and two sons.

Hopefully this change of leadership will cause Arlington DHS to revisit some of the botched Foster care cases that Ms. Eisner oversaw and failed to correct.

Visit the Department of Human Services website.