Department of Social and Health Services announces leadership changes

Lisa Copeland
(360) 890–2055

Debbie Roberts

April 21, 2020

OLYMPIA — DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange announced today the appointment of a senior leadership position to the agency’s Developmental Disabilities Administration. The new appointment results from the January announcement that Evelyn Perez, assistant secretary for DDA since 2013, will retire at the end of April.

“I am grateful to Evelyn for all of her hard work and tremendous leadership — she has truly earned her retirement,” said Strange. “Evelyn dedicated 35 years of public service to DSHS and the people of Washington state. Many have benefitted from her contributions and work in informing person-centered supports and services.”

Beginning May 1, Debbie Roberts, currently the deputy assistant secretary for DDA, will step up to serve as DDA’s new assistant secretary. Roberts originally joined DSHS in 1986. She began serving the developmental disabilities population in 2004 and became the deputy assistant secretary in 2018.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Puget Sound and has held several leadership positions throughout her career.

“Debbie’s extensive knowledge of programs and services, combined with her ability to lead teams of professionals in meeting strategic objectives will be a tremendous asset to DDA,” said Strange. “She brings forward thinking and a proven track record of fostering community partnerships which empower the people DDA serves to live the independent lives they want.”

In June, Gov. Inslee honored Roberts with the Governor’s Award for Leadership in Management. Her nomination spoke of her many talents and read in part, “Roberts embodies the image of performance-based leadership by empowering her staff, improving their work environment and improving the lives of our clients.”

“DSHS’ Developmental Disabilities Administration provides services to approximately 35,000 clients with a $3.8 billion budget, “added Strange. “I am excited to see DDA flourish under Debbie’s leadership.”

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