County Human services director resigns

Published 10:43 am Tuesday, July 29, 2014

After more than five years, the head of Mower County’s largest department is stepping down.

The county board accepted Mower County Health and Human Services Director Julie Stevermer’s resignation 4-0 during Tuesday morning’s meeting. Board member Mike Ankeny was absent.

“Thank you for your years of service,” Commissioner Polly Glynn said, a sentiment echoed by the rest of the board.

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Her last day will be Aug. 15.

Stevermer started in December 2008 after previously working at a children’s residential treatment center in St. Peter.

Stevermer isn’t retiring, as she’s looking into other opportunities in the human services field, though she declined to give specifics.

“I’m a person that doesn’t sit still,” she said. “I love taking on new projects.”

She described her leaving as a voluntary decision made with the county’s personnel committee.

Stevermer, 55, led her department, which now has about 90 employees, through a transformative period in Mower County and the state. Stevermer and other state human services leaders asked a long-tenured colleague from another county if he’d seen any similarly transformative time in human services in his tenure, and he hadn’t.

“It’s been fast and furious,” she said of the changes.

During the recession, the department faced multiple years of budget cuts, high case loads and a high number of out of home placements.

She was at the helm during the 2011 Minnesota state shutdown, when several employees were laid off temporarily.

Soon after, Stevermer played an integral role in studying and eventually merging the county’s health and human services into one department in 2012. Last year, the merged department moved from leased space at Oak Park Mall to the upstairs of the Mower County Government Center — space that used to be the old courthouse and jail before the Jail and Justice Center project.

“We’ve had some huge projects that we’ve gotten to over the last five years,” Stevermer said.

Stevermer also worked on the Southeastern Minnesota Human Services Redesign, a project to merge the human services departments of several counties into one unit. After years of debate and several studies, the board voted in 2013 to opt out of the merger’s next phase due to cost concerns.

Stevermer spoke favorably of the health and human services merger, and Stevermer said she, Community Health Director Lisa Kocer and other leaders worked well together.

More changes are coming, as Stevermer said Mower County, like others, will be required to meet state outcome measurements starting in 2015.

“I think health and human services has been a very good group of supervisors that have worked very nicely as a team,” she said.