Lori Woodruff, director for Child Welfare Programs with the School of Social Work at The University of Southern Mississippi, has been named
deputy administrator for operations over the Division of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) for the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
Woodruff is a Southern Miss alum who joined the School of Social Work in 2004 and has more than 25 years of social work experience. During her time at the university, she has served on the Supreme Court Judges’ Commission for Child Welfare/Court Improvement from 2006–08 and was a board member of the National Resource Center for Permanency Planning. She previously worked for the MDHS as regional director and social work consultant for this division.
“Lori’s years of experience and vast understanding of the child welfare system is considered to be a great asset to the state of Mississippi and the Mississippi Department of Human Services," said MDHS executive director Don Thompson.
Child welfare services are a community's responsibility and a "true partnership" has formed between the Southern Miss School of Social Work and public agencies, Woodruff said.
"It has been a wonderful experience to work for a university that wishes to have a part in seeing child welfare services in the state become 'best practice' services,” she said. “The University of Southern Mississippi has recognized the effort of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children's Services, and has elected to become a part of the team and the effort."
Dr. Michael Forster, interim dean of the College of Health, said Woodruff's full commitment to the children and families of Mississippi makes her the best choice for the position.
"Director Thompson has made a great pick for this important position," Forster said. "No one is more capable or more committed to children and families than Ms. Woodruff. The reform work she's led in Forrest County under the auspices of the School of Social Work is outstanding, and a testimony to what can and should occur when the university partners with public agencies."
Forster said John Reynolds will serve as interim director following Woodruff's departure in September. Reynolds is the current associate director for Child Welfare Services in Hattiesburg with the School of Social Work.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.