ILLINOIS DEPT. OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES
MANAGEMENT BIOS (03/2013)
RICHARD H. CALICA
Richard H. Calica is a national authority in child welfare and licensed clinical social worker with broad expertise in risk assessment and child safety, family preservation and support. Calica is a lifelong social worker with extensive leadership experience in serving children and families throughout the state. Mr. Calica has consulted nationally and internationally with social workers, attorneys, judges and administrators of county and state child welfare systems on issues related to child maltreatment and protection. Calica is a graduate of the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration, and he was named Director of the Department of Children and Family Services in December, 2011 by Governor Pat Quinn.
Chief of Staff
Denise Gonzales holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Illinois and brings a strong background in child welfare to the Department of Children and Family Services. She began her career with DCFS in 1987 as an investigator and went on to serve the department as a supervisor, site administrator, regional administrator and special assistant to the director. Ms. Gonzales has also served as director of program development for the Child Welfare Institute and as a consultant and trainer for the Center for Support of Families. She most recently served as centralized service manager for the Iowa Department of Human Services. A former foster parent, Ms. Gonzales is married and has four grown children.
Chief, Bureau of Operations
Deborah McCarrel is a licensed clinical social worker and lifelong public servant with a proven record of transforming state programs to better serve the people of Illinois. Over the course of her career, Ms. McCarrel has served in a variety of capacities at several state agencies. She worked to improve social service systems for the developmentally disabled at the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities; and improved food stamp employment and training programs under welfare to work reform at the Department of Public Aid. During her previous time at DCFS, McCarrel served in a variety of leadership positions furthering the department’s goal of ensuring the safety of children and families. At the Department of Human Services she managed youth services and delinquency prevention programming. Before returning to DCFS, McCarrel was responsible for analyzing and implementing Medicaid policy and programming at the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. A native of Central Illinois, McCarrel earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois in Springfield and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has two grown children and enjoys horseback riding in her spare time.
Deputy Director, Office of Field Operations
Prior to Larry Chasey’s current appointment, he served as the associate deputy director of Field Operations, focusing on its downstate management. Chasey has spent over 35 years in child welfare, serving 21 years with DCFS in numerous capacities including field services and as a program manager. Mr. Chasey spent 14 years in the private sector as child care worker, caseworker and supervisor, and prior to coming to DCFS was vice president of residential and day treatment services at Bethany Home in Moline. Mr. Chasey has a Bachelor of Arts degree in human services from Judson College and a Master of Divinity degree from Northern Baptist Seminary.
Spokesperson and Deputy Director, Office of Communications
Dave Clarkin is a public policy advocate with over 18 years of strategic communications experience centered on state issues. For the past seven years, Dave has worked with consulting clients on issues that include: the state budget, human services, adoption law, civil rights, consumer protection, education reform and after school programming. Previously, Dave worked for eight years in the Illinois General Assembly for the Illinois House Democrats, ultimately serving as deputy communications director. In that role, he worked closely with lawmakers to develop and implement communications plans and advance their legislative agenda, and he was responsible for analyzing legislation and managing a wide range of committee work on behalf of the entire caucus. Among his achievements, Clarkin worked closely with former State Rep. Connie Howard to enact the “Expungement Bill” with bipartisan support, giving ex-offenders and their families a second chance in life.
Clarkin earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A native of the Metro-East, Dave and his wife Rebecca live in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood with their two children.
Deputy Director, Division of Policy and Advocacy
Greg Donathan was appointed chief of the Office Child and Family Policy in August, 2012. Donathan holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He worked for McFarland Mental Health Center for six years as a social worker and clinical director; and served as the treatment services administrator for three years where he oversaw the delivery of social work, psychology, activity therapy and recovery services for the 110-bed hospital. Prior to his work at McFarland, Donathan was employed by DCFS for six years, first in the Director’s Office and last serving as a child protection specialist in the Springfield Field Office. Donathan has also provided private practice services to adults, youth and families. Donathan, his wife and four children reside in Springfield and are involved in and support the performing arts.
Deputy Director, Office of Affirmative Action
Prior to her current post, Debra Dyer served for eight years as the chief deputy general counsel of DCFS. In this capacity she directed and supervised the activities of staff attorneys engaged in conducting extensive legal research, writing legal opinions, drafting legislation and department rules and procedures, while assisting the general counsel in the development and implementation of legal strategies designed to minimize litigation risks. Ms. Dyer has also served as an assistant state's attorney in the State's Attorney Office of Cook County. As the lead prosecutor in a juvenile justice/child protection courtroom, she was responsible for conducting trials and hearings, training prosecutors, and managing the day-to-day prosecutorial activities of the courtroom.
Previously, Dyer served as deputy director of External Affairs for DCFS. In that role, she collaborated with internal and external partners; resolved problems and improved relationships with external constituents; and managed the Office of Communications, African American Services, and Latino Services. Dyer has also served as supervisory legal counsel, technical advisor, public service administrator, child protective service investigator, and child welfare specialist for DCFS. She holds a juris doctorate degree from the Chicago Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology, a master's degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, and a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in social science from Jackson State University.
Deputy Director, Office of Human Resources
Prior to her current appointment, Michelle Jackson served as assistant deputy general counsel for the Department of Children and Family Services. She began her legal career at the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian where her primary responsibility was representing children involved in the child protection system as attorney and guardian ad litem. Prior to joining the Department of Children and Family Services’ Office of Legal Services, Ms. Jackson was the interim director of the Illinois Attorney General's Gang Crime Prevention Center. Ms. Jackson is committed to improving the lives of children and families. An accomplished attorney, she has expertise in both traditional and non-traditional legal areas, including civil litigation, real estate, child welfare, juvenile justice family law, and policy making. She is an enthusiastic volunteer with several non-profit organizations. Jackson holds a juris doctorate degree from DePaul University College of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University.
Agency Procurement Officer
Debra Matlock joined the department after serving as general counsel for the Department of Central Management Services and then director for the Department of Human Services’ Office of Contract Administration and Procurement. An expert transactional professional and attorney, Matlock brings her extensive private-sector experience in creating, leading and counseling teams responsible for strategic business alliances at a number of leading-edge innovator companies.
Prior to her service with the state, Matlock served as director of contracts at Rockwell, licensing account executive at Microsoft, director of contracts and strategic alliances at Motorola, manager of contracts at FMC, and contract negotiator on avionics and defense at Honeywell. She began her career as a staff attorney at Allstate Insurance.
Ms.Matlock earned her law degree at Northwestern University and her B.A. in sociology and political science at Loyola University Chicago. She serves as a member of the American Bar Association and its Science and Technology Section, Executive Board of the National Bar Institute, the philanthropic arm of the National Bar Association. Debra has also been a member of the National Bar Association serving on its Board of Governors, as a former vice president, chair of the Corporate Law Section, and chair of the Women Lawyers Division. Matlock continues to serve as a panelist and convener of seminars on various aspects of technology licensing, transactional and corporate law.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Deputy Director, Office of Budget and Finance
Chuck Morris brings over 20 years of finance experience in the private sector, most recently serving as a CFO advisory services consultant at Slalom Consulting in Chicago. Prior to that, he was regional director of finance for RCN in Chicago. Mr. Morris has also held positions at Dorado Development Group, LLC in New Jersey, Global Crossing in New York, and AT&T in New Jersey.
Mr. Morris holds a Masters in Business Administration with concentrations in finance and international business from New York University – Stern School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Rutgers University.
Deputy Director, Division of Licensing
Denice Murray holds a bachelor‘s degree in psychology from Illinois State University and a master’s degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, where she served on its alumni board for two terms. She brings over 30 years of social service experience to this position, having served in both the public and private sectors. Her previous positions include: chief executive officer, Chicago Child Care Society; executive director, Partners in Community Development; and associate executive director, Child Care Association of Illinois. In her previous employment at DCFS, she served associate deputy director of Licensing; ombudsman Cook Region; administrator for the P.A.L. Program; liaison to the Office of Litigation Management; program analyst in the Office of Program Review; and as a child welfare specialist. Her most recent position was interim deputy director of Monitoring and executive deputy director.
Deputy Director, Division of Quality Assurance and Monitoring
Joan Nelson-Phillips holds a Bachelor of Science degree in social work from Illinois State University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago. She brings over 20 years experience to this position and has served as a caseworker, placement team supervisor and, for the past decade, as a member of the DCFS Division of Quality Assurance.
Nelson-Phillips is a certified reviewer and team leader for the Federal Child and Family Services Review project, certified peer reviewer and team leader for the Council on Accreditation and a nationally recognized expert on Continuous Quality Improvement processes. She most recently served as a special assistant to the director.
D. JEAN ORTEGA-PIRON
Deputy Director, Office of the DCFS Guardian
D. Jean Ortega-Piron serves the department with the responsibility of being the guardian of all youth committed to DCFS by the juvenile courts of the state of Illinois. In that role, she was instrumental in establishing the first-in-the-nation Memorandum of Understanding between a state child welfare agency and Mexico, and also established a system for monitoring psychotropic medications for state wards, described by the Chicago Tribune as the “gold standard” in the country. Additionally, from 1994-1996, Ortega-Piron worked for Governor Edgar in his Office of Special Counsel for Child Welfare Services where she focused on the development of innovative public/private relationships with the state's child welfare system to improve the provision of services and participated in all policy discussion, analysis and initiatives related to Juvenile Court reform. She has also served as the DCFS chief administrative law judge and administrator of the Appeals and Hearings Unit. Prior to that, she worked as chief legal counsel for the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.
Ortega-Piron attended Rosary College and the Illinois Institute of Technology's Chicago Kent Law School.
DIXIE LEE PETERSON
General Counsel and Deputy Director, Office of Legal Services
A 1975 graduate of The John Marshall Law School, Dixie Lee Peterson was a capital partner in a major national law firm, concentrating in environmental law. She made law in several instances, has been on the cutting edge of policies and programs of the Environmental Protection Agency, and published numerous articles on environmental law and health and safety related issues.
In 1993, she was awarded The John Marshall Law School Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award and in 1994 was named to the "100 Women Making a Difference" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine. She is a speaker and organizer of the American Bar Association’s Women Rainmakers in the Legal Profession, and past chairwoman of the 18,000 member Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association. Ms. Peterson is also a member of the Board of Trustees and former adjunct professor at The John Marshall Law School, and served as secretary of the Chicago Bar Association.
In 2000, she was one of just 12 lawyers nationwide to receive the Burton Award for Legal Achievement in Writing given by the Legal Publication Foundation, and in that year accepted an appointment as deputy general counsel of the Department of Children and Family Services at Cook County Juvenile Court, where she managed the DCFS Office of Legal Services. In 2004, she became deputy general counsel supervising the legal staff outside of Cook County, and in 2006 became DCFS acting general counsel. In 2007, Ms. Peterson was elected president of the Women’s Bar Foundation
CYNTHIA L. TATE
Deputy Director, Division of Clinical Practice and Development
Cynthia Tate has more than 20 years of experience as a clinician, administrator, educator, and consultant. Dr. Tate has served as a consultant to the Illinois Department of Human Services where she was the co-developer and professor of the Leadership Development Institute and to major case management initiatives for the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois, and was a consultant to the Governors Task Force on Human Service Reform. She was also the co-founder of a behavioral health managed care company, developing and managing its professional operations and has served on the faculty of the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Tate most recently served as a special assistant to the commissioner for the Georgia Department of Human Services.
Dr. Tate holds a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and a doctorate degree in clinical-community psychology from the State University of New York at Albany.
Deputy Director, Office of Technology and Planning
Bill Wolfe’s public service career includes serving as a member of the Taxpayer Action Board, managing deputy budget director for the City of Chicago, and most recently as deputy director for Planning and Performance Management at DCFS. Prior to entering public service, Wolfe worked as a management consultant and as a staff and line manager in private industry.
Career shaping experiences include working with startup companies, managing 4000 employees as country manager for Saudi Arabia for Waste Management, leading Waste Management’s effort to put power plants on landfills, leading strategy, cost reduction, and reorganization efforts at Combustion Engineering and as a consultant for McKinsey and Company.
Wolfe has a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Indiana University, read politics and economics at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and is all but complete on his dissertation in economics from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Deputy Director, Office of Legislative Affairs
Prior to joining DCFS in 2006, Yowell worked for the Illinois Senate Democrats on the Communications and Research Staff. During her six-year stint, she worked closely with several state senators on a number of technical assignments. Her duties included formulating legislative initiatives, writing press releases and performing research. She was very involved in the legislative process as new legislation made its way through the General Assembly process to become law. Ms. Yowell’s social work background was instrumental in dealing with human service issues. Before working with the Illinois Senate, Yowell worked for seven years with the Macoupin County Mental Health Center. Yowell holds a bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Illinois in Springfield.