DHHS CEO Phillips leaves proud of legacy, confident staff will keep working toward goals

September 30, 2018

LINCOLN - Department of Health and Human Services CEO Courtney Phillips is leaving Nebraska to take a similar position in Texas.

Phillips looks back on 3-and-a-half years in Nebraska with pride.

“What I’m proudest of is the ability of our team to work together to ensure that we are providing accurate and efficient services to those who need them when they need them,” Phillips tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Phillips took over a troubled department when she arrived.

DHHS is the largest department in state government with five divisions offering a wide variety of services to Nebraska citizens.

The Beatrice State Developmental Center was under Department of Justice oversight. Nebraskans complained they couldn’t get through to ACCESS Nebraska for help with various needs, sometimes being placed on hold for nearly half an hour. Child welfare programs were in disarray after a failed experiment with privatization.

Phillips readily acknowledges that what the department does is tough. She says she often tells team members they have to remember why they’re there.

“And so, it’s always us remembering what we do and why we do it that keeps us going day in, day out,” Phillips says. “We have great team members who are dedicated to what they do, who believe in what they do and show up every single day for Nebraskans and our team will continue to push forward. I am very proud of what they have accomplished.”

Phillips says she has attempted to approach the job in a business-like manner. She points the biennial business plans DHHS devises and says the current plan for 2018/2019 has numerous goals that will challenge the department.

Phillips says while much has been accomplished, more remains to be done. She has faith the DHHS staff will get it done.

Phillips is leaving to become Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Commissioner for Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Phillips, who is from Louisiana, admits part of the pull of the new job is that it is closer to family.

Her last day will be October 14th.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has named DHHS Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel Bo Botelho as the interim CEO until the national search can be conducted

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