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Empowering Change: A Conversation with Commissioner Kira Pospesel on Leadership and Community Well-being



TipCo Automated Systems is proud to partner with a group of visionary leaders in the health and human services (HHS) sector, particularly focusing on women who are spearheading change in their communities. These leaders recognize the pressing challenges faced by their county departments, including critical worker shortages and increasing demand for programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Moreover, they identify the need for more efficient and supportive technology to address these issues effectively.

Among these distinguished leaders stands Commissioner Kira Pospesel, a stalwart advocate for community well-being and progress. With a formidable background in nursing and health services administration, Commissioner Pospesel brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her role at the helm of the Greene County, New York Department of Social Services.

Interview with Commissioner Kira Pospesel

Join us as we learn more about Commissioner Kira Pospesel, exploring her insights, experiences, and vision for the future of Greene County’s HHS sector.

What inspired you to pursue a career in social services, and what motivated you to take on leadership roles within Greene County?

I was trained as a registered nurse. I loved working in the intensive care unit, but the hours and staffing issues made it impossible when you have an infant at home to care for. I transitioned into homecare and felt excited as I made a difference in my community. I started to work for Greene County and realized my skills as a nurse could be used in all areas of the department of social services. Understanding and being able to read medical records made a difference for the team as I could read them and interpret what happened. The most difficult phone call to ever get as a commissioner is a child fatality. My skills made this difficult journey a turning point for our families and our community; we were able to quickly make decisions on safety plans and removals since we could understand the medical world.

What strategies have you employed to address challenges such as staffing shortages, budget constraints, or unexpected crises like the COVID-19 pandemic?

To get through any challenge, you need to keep your team informed and feeling like part of the team. They need time to think about a change and come to an agreement for the change to be positive. We have looked at many different strategies during any crisis: working on teams, task-based approach, employee over time, and moving staff from other divisions in to assist. This has worn out the team, they are tired and cannot see any permanent solution to this staffing crisis. The biggest challenge we continue to face is the staffing crisis. The clerk and receptionist positions are not even attracting applicants; we need to do something different. Our past solutions are no longer the answer to this crisis as this is a new frontier none of us have seen.

In what ways do you believe technology and innovation can further enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of social services delivery in your county?

In three months, I have watched my eligibility determinations percentages sink dramatically, while we have been working the hardest we ever have. I have the most difficulty recruiting for clerks and receptionists. I moved my examiners up front to serve our community only for them not to be able to do eligibility work. The further we get behind makes the phone calls/emails increase, never allowing the eligibility staff to get back to their jobs of determining eligibility.

Artificial intelligence (AI) will change this as it will relieve the pressure on the team so they can do the job they were hired to do.

What specific challenges or opportunities within the realm of health and human services (HHS) prompted you to consider integrating AI?

My team is worn out. With no applicants applying for some jobs and after trying many different solutions (teams, task-based approach, overtime, moving other staff in), I need to do something, or I can no longer serve my community because clients will be waiting months to get SNAP benefits and basic needs met.

What legacy do you hope to leave behind in terms of your impact on the community and the social services sector?

DSS does make a difference in our community. We keep families intact and proudly take care of our most vulnerable. We help lift our clients out of poverty and keep them safe.

Conclusion

As we end our conservation with Commissioner Kira Pospesel, her profound commitment to public service and unwavering dedication to community welfare shine brightly. Throughout our conversation, Commissioner Pospesel’s passion for effecting positive change in Greene County’s HHS sector resonates deeply, reflecting her invaluable contributions and steadfast leadership.

To Commissioner Kira Pospesel, we offer our sincerest appreciation and warmest wishes for continued success and fulfillment in all her future endeavors. May her leadership continue to illuminate the path toward a brighter, healthier, and more equitable future for Greene County and beyond.


 

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