New DSS head may be named tonight

Mecklenburg County commissioners tonight could appoint a new director for the Department of Social Services, the county's second-largest department.

County Manager Harry Jones has recommended Mary Wilson for the new job, effective July 7.

Wilson currently serves as executive director for the Friendship Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit corporation sponsored by the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

Commissioners must approve the appointment, and a vote is scheduled for tonight's meeting.

DSS has a $174.9 million budget and more than 1,100 budgeted positions. It oversees programs such as Medicaid and food stamps, seniors programs, and foster care and adoption.

The department has been without a permanent leader since the departure late last year of former director Richard “Jake” Jacobsen. Jacobsen is now serving as executive-in-residence for the UNC Charlotte Institute for Social Capital, though his $167,936 salary is still paid for by the county.

Janice Allen Jackson, a county general manager, has been serving as interim DSS director since January.

Wilson has led the Friendship Community Development Corporation since 2004, working on projects such as the purchase and renovation of property for affordable housing projects and the development of job training and youth employment programs, according to her resume.

On Monday, Wilson said that through working on affordable housing projects she saw that residents also needed advice and access to other social services.

“There's a population out there that needs our help, and I was really drawn to how can we provide those services,” she said.

Wilson has worked in Charlotte since 1989 and previously led or served as an attorney for companies including KOSA, Hoechst Celanese and the Heritage House.