New DSS director named for Mecklenburg County

Patty Eagan


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

Posted on May 16, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Updated Thursday, May 16 at 6:00 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The search for new leadership at two troubled Mecklenburg County departments leads to one hire and a round of interviews.

Thursday, Peggy Eagan was announced as the new Department of Social Services director.

She resigned the same day as director of the Children & Family Services Center in Charlotte to accept the new position.

The new hire comes months after former DSS directory Mary Wilson was fired.  Officials say Wilson's four year tenure at DSS led to numerous complaints, plus a culture of fear, distrust and intimidation.

Wilson did not have a social services background.  

Eagan is a licensed social worker with a Master's degree in social work who also worked in child abuse prevention in Indiana.

Eagan will oversee public assistance programs, services to assist seniors and adults with disabilities, and protective services for children and adults.  

Eagan also inherits a $161 million dollar budget and 1,200 employees.

"I'm going to have a really steep learning curve.  The good news is I love to learn and I'll dive right in," she said.

"We have added additional stability and Peggy is here to help us move forward," said interim County Manager Bobbie Shields.

Her initial focus will be on compliance, effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and accountability.

"And (I) will apply those across the board," Eagan said.

Thursday's government work also included moving forward in the search for the next county assessor.

"This has been a process going on for a couple of months and conducting a national search," said Human Resources Director Chris Peek.

Former assessor Garrett Alexander resigned last year after the revaluation fiasco.

Thousands protested the assessed value of their homes which led to higher property taxes.

A study found numerous errors. The county could be on the hook for millions of dollars in refunds while state lawmakers are moving toward ordering a do-over.

At least four people are interviewing for the assessor job. Two interviewed Thursday and two more will interview Monday. The county is not releasing their names at this point.

Commissioners are looking for the right fit, community connection, customer service experience and technical ability to do the job.

"We don't need to lose sight of that because sometimes you can get into the interview process where you sort of like the person and forget if they are really technically able to do the job," Peek said before commissioners went into closed session to conduct interviews.

A hiring recommendation is expected to come before the full board in about two weeks.