Position: CEO

Location:  Lincoln, Nebraska

Organization:  Department of Health and Human Services for the state of Nebraska

Dannette R. Smith was appointed CEO of the Department of Health and Human Services for the state of Nebraska in February 2019. She brings more than 25 years of executive leadership experience in large, complex organizations to the state. She has spearheaded the development of the Department’s business plan, which supports Governor Pete Ricketts’ strategic vision. The plan outlines her four-pronged approach to leading the Department with the overarching strategy of 1) creating an integrated service delivery system; 2) establishing and enhancing collaborative relationships with community, stakeholders and policymakers; 3) aligning DHHS teammates under the mission of Helping People Live Better Lives; and 4) enhancing the Department’s internal infrastructure to provide more effective, efficient, customer-focused services to Nebraskans. Prior to joining DHHS, Smith was the Director of the Virginia Beach Department of Human Services. She has also worked in a leadership capacity in Cook County, IL; Mecklenburg County, NC; Atlanta, GA; and Seattle, WA. 

Smith has been a catalyst for creating innovative programmatic and technological solutions and to improving the operational structure of DHHS. A fiscally adept leader, Smith’s expertise in budget oversight helps ensure solvency in managing federal and state funding. In Nebraska and other jurisdictions, she has been closely involved with Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development Departments, law enforcement agencies and community engagement advocates in workforce development. Smith’s banking and financial literacy initiatives, in partnership with those organizations, have helped individuals in those communities move toward self-sufficiency and autonomy.  

Smith attributes much of her success to community engagement and the belief that when you bring stakeholders to the table, whether opposed or supportive, there is great opportunity for creative solutions. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Eastern Michigan University, and a Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois in Chicago.