Debbie-Ann Anderson, the former Executive Director of HomeFirst Interfaith Housing Services and a former Executive Vice President of the United Way of Greater Union County, has been appointed Human Services Director effective today, County Manager Alfred J. Faella announced.
“Debbie-Ann brings both experience and enthusiasm to the position of Human Services Director,” said County Manager Faella. “As an executive of two non-profit agencies that have collaborated with County government, she brings a familiarity and knowledge of our government operations and the non-profit world that will greatly assist her in running the department.”
Anderson succeeds Frank Guzzo, the former director who retired earlier this year after having run the department for the past 27 years.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead the many dedicated public servants in our 10 different divisions and offices that provide services and respond to the quality of life needs of our residents,” said Anderson. “I am grateful to the County Manager for his support and appointment, and I look forward to working with our Board of Chosen Freeholders.”
Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen welcomed Anderson to County government.
“The Department of Human Services is an essential agency and safety net of County government that touches all our different populations, and in particular, those who need it the most—the elderly, poor, unemployed, underemployed and youth populations,” said Bergen. “We are pleased to have found someone in Debbie-Ann Anderson who is prepared to lead the department and understands these challenges, and we look forward to working with her.”
The Department of Human Services, with 747 full and part-time employees, is County government’s largest agency, and contains the following units: the Division of Aging and Disability Resource Connection; the Division of Planning; the Division of Social Services (in Plainfield and Elizabeth); the Division of Youth Services; the Office of Veterans’ Affairs; the Office on Women; Paratransit (and Route 22 Shuttle);the Contract Unit; Workforce Development Operations (One Stop Career Centers, Elizabeth and Plainfield offices) and Cornerstone Behavioral Health Hospital of Union County.
Anderson had served the past two years as Executive Director at Homefirst in Plainfield. Homefirst serves over 2,000 clients on a yearly basis by providing social service programs and community-building practices that strengthen families including transitional, permanent and supportive housing, homelessness prevention, emergency assistance, and family support services.
Prior to that, she worked for seven years at the United Way of Greater Union County, serving the last three years of her tenure as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
Anderson has a diversified background in programs serving families as well as extensive experience in corporate, non-profit and community affairs organizations. Her professional career began in 1997 and has included sales and marketing as well as governmental and public affairs while working with top law firms and a variety of government agencies.
Anderson began her professional fundraising career in 2004 at the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) in Towson, Maryland. In just eight months, she rose to the Executive Director role and relocated to manage the Northern New Jersey chapter of MDA. Her strategic development efforts for the chapter led to them achieving the highest percentage of revenue growth in the nation for two consecutive years.
Anderson joined United Way of Greater Union County in 2008 and during her tenure there she garnered a reputation as a dynamic strategic developer to revenue growth. Within a year, Debbie-Ann was instrumental in securing the organization’s first major gift of $1 million dollars from a private family foundation. Ms. Anderson focused on integrating emerging fundraising markets, incorporated a more tactical use of technology, which included migration toward digital platforms to increase awareness of UWGUC among donors and Union County communities. She also managed and assisted staff in strengthening collaborative partnerships.
Anderson has a Bachelor’s of Science in Business and Marketing from Mount Saint Mary’s College and currently serves on the following nonprofit boards Habitat of Humanity Greater Plainfield and Middlesex County and Plainfield Community Outreach Organization.