Kelly Kennedy Garcia appointed Iowa DHS director

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday the appointment of Kelly Kennedy Garcia, currently deputy executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, as director of the Iowa Department of Human Services.


DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday the appointment of Kelly Kennedy Garcia, currently deputy executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, as director of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS).

“Kelly Garcia is an experienced social service leader and team builder with a passion for helping people and leading change,” Reynolds said is a press release. “For so many Iowans, DHS provides the critical services, protection and support they need to live and thrive. Kelly brings a depth of experience in a large-scale, high-impact government agency and will serve Iowa’s families and communities well in this vital role.”

Garcia currently oversees the Texas Department of Health, Developmental and Independence Services (HDIS), which comprises more than 40 client service programs and support functions and employs more than 700 employees and operates on a $1.4 billion budget.

Garcia served in a number of other senior-level human services roles, including deputy chief for the office of programs and services, which included oversight of Medicaid, eligibility operations and behavioral and mental health. She said she is ready to go to work for Iowans.

“To meet the ambitious goals Gov. Reynolds has set out for serving Iowa’s most vulnerable populations, it’s going to take a strong team effort at DHS and throughout the state,” Garcia said. “I look forward to hitting the ground running and building relationships within our own team and across the state to help Iowa families succeed.”

Before joining the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in 2013, Garcia served as a project manager and senior analyst at the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission and a senior advisor to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. She has a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in public service and administration from Texas A&M University.

Garcia’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Iowa Senate. She will relocate from Austin, Texas, and take up her new role Nov. 1.

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