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Hamilton County has its first African American director of Job and Family Services

County Commissioners with JFS Director Michael Patton
Courtesy: Hamilton County
From left: Commission Vice President Alicia Reece, President Stephanie Summerow Dumas, JFS Director Michael Patton, and Commissioner Denise Driehaus

Hamilton County commissioners voted Thursday to appoint the first African American to serve as director of Job and Family Services.

Michael Patton has worked in the department for nearly three decades and has been an assistant director for Child Support, Building Services and Fatherhood Initiatives since 2016.

"He's coming at a critical time where we are at crossroads with that department in terms of delivering services maybe a little differently than we have had to in the past because of the pandemic and other challenges," said Commission Vice President Alicia Reece. "But I see it as a great opportunity."

Job and Family Services, or JFS, is the largest department in the county. It oversees child protection, workforce development, and all public programs for food, cash, and medical assistance. Over the past two years, JFS has administered many of the pandemic programs like rent, mortgage and utility assistance.

Commissioner Denise Driehaus says she thinks many people aren't aware of the work JFS does.

"Where we interact with the most vulnerable people in this community, whether they're seniors, whether they're children, whether they are people in crisis," Driehaus said. "JFS is the frontline for the county to respond."

The department has more than 750 employees. Patton says he's grateful for the staff he's worked with for years.

"They're compassionate, they're committed, and they are talented," Patton said. "I appreciate the resilience that they've shown in the incredible work they do to serve the community day in and day out. And I'm ready to get the work."

Patton's annual salary will be $163,000. He starts the job effective immediately.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.