Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has chosen Nancy Nunziata, a 40-year veteran of the social work field and an executive of one of the largest homeless shelter providers on Long Island, as the new commissioner of the county Department of Social Services.
Nunziata, 63, of Farmingdale, is a senior vice president at HELP USA, based in Manhattan, which provides transitional housing and social services for the homeless. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo founded the organization in 1986 and his sister Maria Cuomo Cole chairs the board of directors.
Nunziata has worked for the nonprofit since 1991. For about eight years beginning in 2005, she was executive director of HELP Suffolk, where she was responsible for housing programs in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
"I will take my life's work to this new position and make sure anyone who comes through our doors gets the services they need. It's about taking care of people," Nunziata said in an interview.
Nunziata's appointment, at a salary of $185,782, is pending approval by the Republican-controlled County Legislature, which is expected to vote on her nomination Monday. Curran is a Democrat.
If approved, Nunziata will head one of Nassau County's largest agencies. In 2017-18, the Department of Social Services had an operating budget of $471 million, with 710 full-time and 93 part-time employees. The agency has dozens of contracts with nonprofit organizations.
Nunziata said as commissioner she would focus on the rise in the county's homeless population, along with mental health and substance abuse treatment needs. She said she would ensure the agency's programs are hitting their goals and that the county gets federal and state grant funding to which it is entitled.
Paul F. Broderick, acting commissioner of social services since May 1, will return to his job as deputy commissoner. The previous commissoner, John Imhof, retired.
Christopher Boyle, spokesman for legislative Republicans, who have an 11-8 majority, said GOP lawmakers will review Nunziata's resume and credentials, "to ensure she will provide the leadership residents deserve."
"The Department of Social Services provides integral resources to the residents of Nassau County. It is important that the legislature finds a well-qualified candidate who will be able to lead this important department and hit the ground running on day one," Boyle said.
In a statement, Curran called Nunziata a "renowned leader in the social services field, who throughout her life has demonstrated real leadership and a fierce commitment to serving the public – especially those most in need ... I am excited to see Nancy join an outstanding staff who do an extraordinary job each day, consistently improving outcomes for our most vulnerable residents.”
In addition to HELP USA, Nunziata has worked at Safe Horizon, a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence, and the Maimonides Community Mental Health Center in Brooklyn.
She has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in social work from New York University. She has lived in Farmingdale for 19 years and has a grown son. She also is an adjunct professor at Suffolk County Community College.
Curran administration officials said Nassau received more than 100 resumes for the social services commissioner's job, with 19 applicants called in for interviews by a panel of five.
The panel forwarded three names to the county executive's office for an consideration. Curran interviewed all three and selected Nunziata.