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Wadena Board interviews two finalists for social service director

On April 9 at a special board meeting, the Wadena Board of Commissioners interviewed two finalists selected from a pool of nine candidates for the position of County Social Services Director.

Neither candidate had previous experience as a Social Service Director in another county, but both had extensive experience in social work and in county and/or state government. We did not have access to the candidates' applications or resumes due to privacy laws, but learned some things about their experience as a result of observing the interviews.

During the interviews with the county board, Human Resource Consultant Cheryl Goettig asked both candidates the same 12 questions.

Luke Simonett went first. He said that his first few actions if hired would include a careful review of the budget in the Social Services Department, meeting the staff and supervisors, getting to know the concerns of the county board and Social Services staff, meeting the vendors and partners that the county works with, and preparing a list of priorities for the department.

Tanya Leskey was next. She said her first few actions if hired would include networking with agencies the county works with, learning about the local Social Services budget and where difficulties might lie and resources might be found, meeting with Public Health officials of the county to explore collaborations with them, team building in Social Services to manage the transition from former director Paul Sailer to her tenure as the new director, and getting a perspective on "the big picture" of where Wadena County fits in the system of resources in Central Minnesota and throughout the state.

After the interviews, the commissioners discussed the candidates and took a straw poll to see which one they would like to hire. They chose one of the candidates and approved a motion to order a background check. Once the background check has occurred, if the candidate passed the background check, then the board will meet with the candidate to offer him or her the position and negotiate the salary and benefits the new director will receive.

Board members hoped that the hiring could be completed during the week of April 14, and that the new director could start work sometime between May 1 and May 15.