Chief Executive Officer Biography


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Danette R. Smith
Dannette R. Smith, CEO,
Department of Health and Human Services

Dannette R. Smith has more than 25 years of executive leadership experience in large, complex organizations and most recently served as the Director of the Virginia Beach Department of Human Services since 2013.  During her tenure at Virginia Beach, she led several initiatives including:

  • Integrating Behavioral Health and Developmental Services with the Department of Social Services to create a seamless organizational structure to enhance service delivery.

  • Developing an integrated healthcare system for children entering the child welfare system. 

  • Focusing on data-driven results with the creation of a data dashboard that measures the distribution and processing of SNAP and Medicaid benefits. 

  • Collaborating with law enforcement to provide a first responder approach to Behavioral Health Services in the community.

Smith has state, regional, and municipal experience.  She has served as Director of the Seattle Department of Human Services where she oversaw the development of the agency's first strategic plan.  She has also served as the Director of the Fulton County Department of Children and Family Services in Georgia and the Division Director of Youth and Family Services for the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services in North Carolina.
Smith holds a Bachelor's of Science in Psychology from Eastern Michigan University and a Master's of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Under the auspices of the Child Welfare League of America, she participated in a child welfare leadership program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.  She also attended the County Administration Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Smith is a member of the Board of Directors for ATTACH (the Association for Training on Trauma and Attachment in Children); the Hampton Roads Early Childhood Initiative Minus 9-5; BEACH Governing Board (Bringing an End to All City Homelessness); and WISH (Women Invested in Social Change).

The following directors report to the CEO:

  • Chief Operating Officer - Bo Botelho 
  • Behavioral Health - Sheri Dawson
  • Children and Family Services - Matt Wallen
  • Developmental Disabilities - Courtney Miller
  • Medicaid and Long-Term Care - Dr. Matthew Van Patton