Sheryl L. Spiller Becomes L.A. County Department of Public Social Services First African American Director
She becomes the first ever African-American to lead the department in its nearly 100-year history of providing social services
LOS ANGELES – Sheryl L. Spiller, who began her long career with the County of Los Angeles as a clerk typist over 40 years ago, was sworn-in last week to lead the 13,500- employee Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) in its efforts to provide much-needed benefits and services to low-income individuals and families in the second largest locally operated social services agency in the nation.
With her official swearing in, Spiller became the first ever African-American (male or female) to lead the department in its nearly 100-year history.
Greeted by a standing ovation, Spiller was accompanied by her daughter and three grandchildren. She reflected on the lyrics of Whitney Houston’s version of One Moment in Time, of which she said personally moved her as she listened to the Emmy-Award winning song on her way to the swearing-in ceremony.
“Each day I live, I want to be, a day to give the best of me,” Spiller shared with supporters in the audience. “I'm only one, but not alone. My finest day is yet unknown.”
Spiller has served as DPSS Acting Director since August 2011, after the former director, Philip L. Browning, was named to head the County Department of Children and Family Services. She has built her career with a combination of front-line work, strategic savvy and a commitment to helping those around her grow on the job.
She thanked the Board of Supervisors and Chief Executive Officer for making it possible for someone at the lowest level to rise to the top.
“The County, under the leadership of the Board, has created extraordinary opportunities for professional development, making it possible for someone to begin employment at the lowest entry level and work their way up to head a major department,” Spiller said.
On her long journey to becoming DPSS Director, Spiller has served in various management positions, many of which have guided critical policy decisions for the department. She is also credited with spearheading a highly successful public outreach effort that resulted in over 100,000 uninsured children being enrolled into Medi-Cal.