For Immediate Release - June 02, 2016

Department of Children and Families Commissioner Linda Spears Names New Members to Department’s Leadership Team

BOSTON - As part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s continuing reforms at the Department of Children and Families (DCF), Commissioner Linda Spears today announced significant changes in agency leadership positions.

“The depth of child welfare experience this group brings to the agency enhances the efforts already underway to strengthen new policies and procedures around child safety and wellbeing,” said Commissioner Spears. “I am excited to have this leadership team in place and I look forward to all we will accomplish for the children and families we serve.” 

Paola M. Ferrer, Esq. - Chief of Staff.  Ferrer will join DCF after serving as Grants & Development Director at Charles River Community Health where she was responsible for institutional advancement, including fundraising, marketing, public/government relations and advocacy.  Active in community services and an advocate for children, she has served as a volunteer Foster Care Reviewer for DCF and a Youth Mentor at TAG/PANAS. Ferrer previously served at United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley as Director of Community Impact where she conducted grant-making and advocacy activities to support United Way’s work in Basic Needs.

Ryan FitzGerald - Chief of Operations and Organizational Improvement. Building on his 2-year tenure as DCF’s Chief of Staff, FitzGerald will assume ongoing oversight of the agency’s improvement initiative, including  the operational supports for agency reforms, IT, caseload management, staff safety, quality improvement and business and process redesign. Dedicated to the well-being of children and youth, he previously served in several capacities for the City of Boston, including Director of Programming at Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF), the City of Boston’s largest youth and human service agency, and Director of Recreation, Sports and Fitness.

Kathy Lopes, - Assistant Commissioner for Foster Care, Adoption, and Adolescent Services. Lopes most recently served as an administrator and adjunct professor at Simmons College Graduate School of Social Work.  Lopes began her career in 2001 as a DCF adolescent social worker before moving to school-based social work in Washington DC in 2004 and later to management positions at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston.  

Teddy Savas - Assistant Commissioner for Policy and Practice.  Savas is joining the Department from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services where she most recently served as Senior Policy Advisor to the agency head.  During her tenure, she focused on supervision and policy development, two hallmarks of the ongoing DCF reform.  She’s also held director positions at child services provider organizations in the Chicago area and as a social worker and social worker supervisor from 1978-1989 for what was then known as the Massachusetts Department of Social Services.

Sharon Silvia Director of Adoption -  Silvia most recently completed a three-decade tenure as an adoption supervisor and adoption worker with New Bedford-based Child & Family Services where she helped create a national model for a post-adoption parent support network.

Jorge Velazquez- Director of Training - Velazquez most recently served as a management and leadership consultant in Delaware where he led a statewide initiative creating the supervisory training and development curriculum for the Maryland Department of Human Services. He has also held leadership positions at the New Jersey Department of Children and Families; at a provider of home-based treatment services that serves thousands of New Jersey children and families; and at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 



About the Department of Children and Families:
The Department of Children and Families (DCF)  is the Commonwealth’s child welfare agency, serving approximately 50,000 children. DCF strives to protect children from abuse and neglect and, in partnership with families and communities, ensure children are able to grow and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment. Under the Baker-Polito administration, the Department is engaged in an intensive system-wide reform effort to restructure the agency and develop new policies and practices with the primary goal of keeping children safe.