Lincoln County Commissioners have selected Jayne Romero as the new director of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Romero was one of two finalists interviewed as part of the search to replace the previous co-directors, Rebecca Austen and Rebecca McBee-Wilson, who retired in April and June respectively.
Board of Commission Chair Doug Hunt said Romero’s career in public service and her wealth of knowledge in the types of programs delivered by HHS were key to her selection. “With more than 25 years of experience in health and human services administration and a strong background in behavioral health, Jayne is an exceptional addition to the county management team,” Hunt said. “She is a visionary and has demonstrated the ability to develop and execute creative strategic plans. We look forward to working with her,” he added.
Romero worked in human services in Venango County, Pennsylvania, from 1998 through 2017. In 2004, she was named mental health and developmental services administrator for the county. She was again promoted in 2013, when she became human services administrator, a position she held until relocating to Oregon.
The new HHS director has a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Master of Science from the University of Kentucky in Lexington. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, the state where she grew up. “I think from a young age, I always felt that I needed to make a living in a capacity that allowed me to be of service to others,” said Romero.
In addition to her work in Venango County, her career has focused on mental health, housing, child and youth services, and rehabilitation. As leader of the county department with the largest staff, Romero said her first priority will be to “get acquainted with the staff, the stakeholders, the services, and the strengths of the health and human services system.”
Asked in her interview to prioritize her immediate goals for the job, Romero said continuing to address the COVID-19 pandemic will be the first order of business, which includes helping the staff heal from this exceptionally stressful period. After that, it is time to get back to business by looking at strategic plans, working with community partners, and addressing the Community Health Improvement Plan.
Romero and her husband, Charles, moved to Lincoln County in 2018 when he took a position with Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport. As avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, they have adapted well to their new surroundings. “We like exploring the Lincoln County coast and are particularly excited whenever we discover a new place,” she said. “We’re just really happy we moved here.”