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Ron DeSantis appoints Chad Poppell as DCF Secretary

Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced that Chad Poppell, formerly Secretary of the Department of Management Services (DMS) under outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, will be the state’s next children’s welfare chief.

Poppell, who has no previous experience in child protection, will take over as Secretary of the Department of Children and Families, replacing interim director Rebecca Kapusta, the transition team said Thursday.

“Chad Poppell is a dedicated public servant with a proven track record of achievement within the public sector,” DeSantis said in a statement.

“From his service at the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to his leadership at the Department of Management Services, Chad is the kind of leader who will be committed to strengthening Florida’s families and fighting for Florida’s children.”

Before becoming DMS Secretary, Poppell was DEO chief of staff. He resigned as DMS head in March 2017. DMS, among other things, acts as the state’s real estate manager; DEO is the state’s economic development and jobs-creating agency.

Poppell currently works as the “IBM Industry Client Leader for Florida’s public sector, which includes state and local government, as well as K-12 and higher education,” a transition press release said.

The position “leads all the IBM sales and technical teams (services, software, hardware) supporting a large State Government account,” according to the job description.

From 2011-2013, he worked as the Director of Employee Services at JEA, a municipally owned electric, water, and sewer provider in Jacksonville.

Poppell also was appointed by then-Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton as Human Resources Chief for the City of Jacksonville. He received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in psychology from Valdosta State University.

Poppell takes over from the last full-time Secretary, Mike Carroll, the longest-serving DCF head in the agency’s 21-year history. Carroll had worked at DCF and its predecessor, the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS), since January 1990.

Poppell now inherits a system described by the Miami Herald’s 2014 “Innocents Lost” investigation as “clearly broken, leaving children unprotected and at risk.”

And a 133-page internal review commissioned by Carroll two years later depicted a dysfunctional agency, with workers feeling “unsupported,” “overwhelmed,” and “defeated.”

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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