Trustees with the Summit County Children Services Board on Thursday made official what a search committee recommended a month ago by naming Julie Barnes the agency’s new executive director.
At a special meeting that six of 11 board members attended — giving the board a quorum — all six voted in favor of Barnes, 53, who had been executive director of Stark County Job and Family Services since 2008.
She formally resigned that job Thursday and will begin in Summit County in about six weeks.
In Stark, Barnes ran a three-pronged agency that included Human Services and Child Support in addition to Children Services, with a combined staff of 475 and a $50 million budget. Before becoming director, she served as deputy director for one year.
Barnes was selected for the Summit County post after a four-month search from a pool of 50 candidates.
“We have a start date, and I am excited about it being official,” Barnes said in a phone interview. “I am glad to have a transition period to learn what I can and be able to meet with the staff and hear what’s going on and be brought up to speed.
“Then I want to get into the community and meet with people and the different agencies and get involved.”
Barnes will start her new job Dec. 23. Her three-year-contract calls for an annual salary of $145,000.
She will oversee a staff of about 330 employees and a budget of $47 million, all focused on what Barnes calls “my passion” of child welfare.
“We feel fortunate that we were able to find someone who was well-suited for the position,” said Dan Bell, chairman of the board of trustees. “In the eyes of the board, we felt she could identify with the agency. She has a good working knowledge of the agency, and we think she will bring a fresh perspective to the agency and we will be able to continue what we started with John [Saros] to deliver innovative programming.”
Saros, 69, will retire as executive director at the end of the year after heading the agency since 2007.
Bell said a weeklong transition period should run smoothly as Barnes has had prior experience working at the agency.
Barnes worked for Summit County Children Services as director of foster care and adoption from 2002 to 2007.
Bell, who said he first met Barnes when he started to serve on the board six years ago, said she is well-respected by the employees who worked with her.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see so many familiar faces on the management team at the community reception last month,” Barnes said. “Many staff members are still there, just in different positions. At first I will spend a lot of time listening. It will be like a homecoming.”
Bell said the board is confident with their decision.
“Julie was able and willing to return,” he said. “She not only has experience working in our system, but in the system. She has a pretty comprehensive background of state guidelines.”
Barnes also worked in the child welfare field through earlier positions at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and Geauga County Department of Job and Family Services. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hiram College and a master’s degree in higher education, specializing in social work, from Kent State University.
“Julie is a strong leader, has a good work ethic and will have no problem adapting to the job,” Bell said. “I imagine she will hit the ground running.”
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.