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Our do'ers profile.

In Our Do'ers Profile, we highlight some of the hardworking and talented individuals in public human services. This issue features Carolyn Colvin of the Montgomery County (Md.) Department of Health and Human Services.


Name: Carolyn W. Colvin

Title: Director, Department of Health and Human Services, Montgomery County Maryland

Years of Service: Almost two years in my current position. Over 30 years in health and human services in local, state, and federal government.

Rewards of the Job: The greatest reward is the opportunity to serve and to make a difference in the lives of others. Many of the Department's services offer a lifeline to our most vulnerable residents and assist many to move to a greater level of self sufficiency.

Accomplishments Most Proud Of: The highlight of my career was my appointment by President Clinton to serve as deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration, during which I led a national oversight strategy to improve SSA's stewardship of its Disability Programs. In my current position, through a partnership with the Primary Care Coalition, we have significantly increased access to health care for uninsured adults in Montgomery County through a network of nonprofit, largely volunteer based clinics. Next year, in addition to primary health care and pharmaceuticals, we will provide specialty care, oral health care and behavioral health services. My highest priority at this time is to achieve a greater degree of service integration among the 124 programs we offer to match services to individuals and family needs by reducing fragmentation and creating a coherent and responsive service delivery system.

Thoughts About the State of the Medicaid Program: I am concerned about the future of the Medicaid program. Unfortunately, the federal government continues to shift more of the financial costs for this program to the states. What was intended to be a national insurance program for our poorest individuals and families is being substantially changed by decisions at the state level, without the benefit of a national debate. Clearly the program cannot be sustained without some changes, especially with the projected increase in enrollment and overall health care costs. Yet attempts to limit spending without public dialogue and debate may have unintended consequences.

Future Challenges for the Delivery of Public Services: Significant numbers of experienced public service workers will retire over the next five years. We will be challenged to fill that void because it is becoming more difficult to compete with the private sector, especially as it relates to salaries and job progression. We need to attract leadership that can create an environment that fosters innovation and creativity. We appear to be in the midst of redefining government's role in the delivery of public service. Many of our entitlement programs that have provided a safety net for the most vulnerable are at risk. We have increasing poverty and many of our programs--housing, health care, child care--are in crisis.

Little Known Facts About Me: I have one son and six wonderful grandchildren.

Outside Interests: I love to read and travel. I continue to mentor. I am actively involved in my church.
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Author:Koller, Lillian B.
Publication:Policy & Practice
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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