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Steve Bellone nominates 3 for Suffolk County commissioner jobs

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks during a

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks during a news conference at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge on Feb. 25 Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has nominated Frances Pierre to head the county’s $301 million Department of Social Services, which would make her the first African-American woman in the post. 

Pierre’s name was put forward  Monday for the $171,007-a-year job, along with those of Andrea Neubauer, to become commissioner of the Probation Department, and John Jordan as commissioner of the Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services. Jordan and Neubauer already have been serving as acting commissioners.

The Social Services commissioner oversees a department with more than 1,000 county employees and is charge of welfare, homeless housing, child and adult protective services, foster care, Medicaid and SNAP,  previously known as food stamps. Pierre’s job has a five-year term. She, Jordan and Neubauer will need confirmation by the county legislature.

While Bellone has named Jo-Anne Taormina as his new personnel officer to head county Civil Service, the county executive has yet to put in a resolution for her legislative confirmation.

Pierre, 55, of Deer Park, has served as chief operating officer of HELP USA, a national organization founded by now-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo 30 years ago that develops and manages transitional housing, operates shelters, and runs prevention programs, according to Bellone aides.

In that job, she has managed a $110 million portfolio and a staff of 1,200 and recently opened a 200-bed mental health shelter for men. Earlier, she was HELP’s senior vice president for family and day care services, overseeing 1,000 units of transitional housing at 10 shelters throughout the New York metropolitan area.

Before joining HELP, Pierre was associate commissioner of shelter operations for the New York City Department of Homeless Services under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, where she oversaw the city’s 9,000-bed shelter system for homeless single adults. Pierre received a master's degree in social work from Stony Brook University.

Neubauer, a longtime county employee who has served as acting commissioner since 2017, will make $144,620 a year if approved by lawmakers. Jordan, who served as deputy commissioner under Joseph William, who retired last year, will make $128,332 a year if confirmed.

Bellone also announced the hiring of Natalie Wright as chief deputy commissioner of the Department of Economic Development and Planning. Since 2015, she has worked in the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery as executive director of community reconstruction, infrastructure and small business programs, administering $2 billion in grants, and a staff of over 70, including consultants, on more than 350 projects.

Bellone is also promoting his chief legislative aide, Amy Keyes, to become assistant county executive for intergovernmental relations, making $121,052, and Derek Poppe,  who has worked in Bellone's press office since 2016 and will become Bellone’s deputy communications director, making $97,588.

Wright, Keys and Poppe need no legislative vote.

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