Photo by Sue Watson
Elizabeth Kriss opens a parting gift. She has taken a new position with the State of Mississippi DHS after serving 28 years in Marshall County, 20 of those as director.
Photo by Sue Watson
Family, friends, and co-workers of Elizabeth Kriss gave her a sendoff Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Marshall County Department of Human Services office. On the front row are Paul Kriss, Allie Kriss Wells, Connie Hensley and Elizabeth Kriss. Others, starting at left and going all the way up and then down, are Tiffany Southern, Sherri Conner, Donna Byard, Ragan Shipp, Kevin Richard, Lynne Pennington, Darell Wells, Lisa Hickman, Lisa Johnson, Deles Farley, Odessia Leseuer and Gwen Sellers.
Kriss moves to state position
Elizabeth Kriss, longtime director of the Marshall County Department of Human Services office, has accepted a position with the Division of Workforce Development, a part of the state DHS.
She joins 32 others in starting up the program. Kriss said those in on the ground floor will help develop the new Division of Workforce Development. Her last day in the county was January 13.
David Spencer, with Marshall County DHS, is also going to be involved in the new program and is shadowing Kriss.
Paul Nelson, at the Mississippi Department of Human Services, said directors and staff in the newly created Division of Workforce Development, will collaborate with partners all across the state, including the Mississippi Community College Board and local community colleges, to help individuals and families that MDHS serves. Those clients will have access to education and training services and supportive services while they earn a credential or gain workforce skills that will help them compete in today’s job market.
“We also want to partner with community-based organizations to help support families with wrap-around supportive services such as case management, navigation and mentoring services and help resolve barriers that make it difficult for individuals to participate in educational and training programs and activities,” Nelson said. “We want to connect participants to in-demand fields and careers.”
High growth sectors that are expected to have jobs that offer livable wages will be targeted across the state for these services, he said.
Marshall County fits well within that sector.
The DWD staff will be responsible for resource mapping across the state, initially.
“MDHS is moving to a more whole family approach to serve families, not just individuals,” Nelson said. “Resources will be critical in meeting the needs of families.”
The staff of the new division, DWD, will assist adults in finding employment or in enrolling in education and training activities. They will also help parents access quality childcare. Some high schools already help students identify a career pathway and to earn college credits prior to graduation.
Nelson said MDHS wants to help support these efforts by school districts to use all the available resources and to help DWD’s partners to maximize their resources through braiding services.
He added that workforce development is a priority for the State of Mississippi, not only MDHS.
“MDHS is a core partner in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act state plan,” Nelson said. “Partner agencies are working together to ensure appropriate referrals are made to all agencies that may have services and resources available, regardless of which agency from which the person initially seeks assistance.”
He said Kriss will work with workforce development in Marshall County as well as across the entire state partnership area.
Employees like Kriss will be placed in locations accessible to local workforce development needs, such as at community colleges, WIN Job Centers and Family First Resource Centers, Nelson said.
Kriss said she is one of 11 county office directors of DHS leaving to work in the state program.