Director Courtney E. Hawkins started as the DHS leader in June 2017. The Rhode Island native, a South Kingstown High School graduate, has more than 20 years of accrued skills that help her lead the agency’s dedicated staff. She interned at the Training School, working with its social worker and school psychologist, while studying psychology at the University of Rhode Island. She taught math at Ocean Tides School, in Narragansett, before receiving her Masters of Science in Social Work from Columbia University.
Director Hawkins interned in a social service agency located in downtown New York City during 9/11, and helped develop and implement its response to the attack. She also provided case management to the victims.
Director Hawkins returned to RI to be the first executive director of Providence Talks, a successful program designed to reduce the language development gaps of some of our youngest residents. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza later made her his Chief Policy Officer where she managed the state capital’s relationship with the School Department and oversaw other key departments including Sustainability, Healthy Communities, Intergovernmental Affairs and the Office of Economic Opportunity.
“I care about moving kids and families out of poverty,” said Director Hawkins. “That has been my life’s work. That is why I do everything that I do, and to me in this state, DHS is the department where we have the biggest opportunity to accomplish that… This is the place I want to be.”
Learn more about the Department’s happenings here at the Director’s Corner.
We are an organization of opportunity.
Through the compassionate delivery of critical safety net and other supportive services, the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) is committed to ensuring that individuals and families in Rhode Island have access to the supports they need to achieve their goals. Its vision is that all Rhode Islanders have the opportunity to thrive at home, work and in the community.
Under the leadership of Director Courtney E. Hawkins, DHS works hand-in-hand with community partners and resources throughout our great State to deliver these benefits to more than 300,000 families, adults, children, elders, individuals with disabilities and veterans every year. We are part of the solution to end poverty and food insecurity and we make a lasting, positive impact on the State’s health and future.
More specifically, DHS strives to guarantee: