The executive director for the Lucas County Department of Job and Family Services has submitted her resignation and will step down from her position effective Dec. 1, the county administrator said Tuesday.
Deborah Ortiz-Flores, 47, who has been with the department for 14 years — eight as the agency’s executive director — said she is leaving to become the chief operating officer at the Zepf Center, a mental-health nonprofit agency in Toledo.
She submitted her resignation letter Thursday.
“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity,” Mrs. Ortiz-Flores said. “It’s a chance to get back to my first passion: mental health.”
As executive director of Job and Family Services, Mrs. Ortiz-Flores was paid an annual salary of $110,000.
She did not disclose how much she will be paid at her new job, but did say, “I wouldn’t go backwards.”
County Administrator Laura Lloyd-Jenkins noted that Mrs. Ortiz-Flores served during some of the county agency’s most financially challenging years and still managed to save jobs and provide quality services.
She also oversaw the merging of Job and Family Services and Child Support Services, a cost-cutting move approved by the Lucas County commissioners that became effective Jan. 1, 2012. The merger left Mrs. Ortiz-Flores with the responsibility of overseeing both agencies.
“She led the agency through the most significant cuts it’s ever faced,” Mrs. Lloyd-Jenkins said.“She always had such passion for the clients she’s served and always tried to make the best decisions for the clients.
Mrs. Ortiz-Flores said she is proud of the job she did at the county, but felt it was time to take on new challenges.
“I’m stepping out to try something a little different,” Mrs. Ortiz-Flores said. “Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone.”
Mrs. Lloyd-Jenkins said the county will put together a transition team that will evaluate department needs before deciding when to begin taking applications.
“It’s going to be a significant loss for the county. But we have some top-level administrators in place which will help make the transition go smoothly,” she said.
Toledo resident Margarita De Leon, a longtime friend of Mrs. Ortiz-Flores, said she was proud of her friend for making a tough decision.
“She has always been the utmost professional and shining example of leadership; not just for the Latino community but for the community has a whole,” said Ms. De Leon, vice president of the Kaleidoscope Group, a diversity consulting agency in Chicago. “She’s done a great job at Job and Family Services and I’ve no doubt wherever she lands she’ll have a positive impact.”
Dolores Rodriquez, a longtime Latina community activist in Toledo, said she was sad to hear that Mrs. Ortiz-Flores was resigning. But she was confident in Mrs. Ortiz-Flores’ future.
“I’ve known her since she was a child in college,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “She’s real, and has always been one of the real people. That means that she’s never forgotten where she comes from — she’s always working for her people.”
Contact Federico Martinez at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.