Nikki Harless named new Executive Director of Richland County Children Services

January 14, 2020

Executive Director Nikki Harless

 Mansfield, Oh - The Board of Richland County Children Services (RCCS) has named Nikki Harless as the agency’s new Executive Director.

At their regular board meeting on Monday, January 13, board members voted unanimously in favor of Harless, 50, who has been serving as the interim executive director since July 1, 2019, following the resignation of former Executive Director Patricia Harrelson.

Harless will begin her new position effective January 14, 2020. Her three-year contract calls for an annual salary of $110,000. Harless will oversee about 96 employees and a budget of more than $11 million. As the Executive Director, Harless will serve as a collaborative leader and champion for families across Richland County.

Harless was selected following an extensive and successful three-month statewide search from a pool of 14 candidates. She has been with the agency for 27 years, during which time she held various management, supervisory and casework positions at Richland County Children Services.

Harless started her career with the Agency as an intern from the Ohio State University in 1992, where she earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree. Following her internship, she was hired by RCCS as a full-time ongoing caseworker working after hours. Harless then worked in the screening department from 2000-2002 and was promoted to a supervisor in October of 2003, serving as first the School-Based team supervisor and then the Placement supervisor.

In 2006, she became the Program Manager over Intake and Ongoing. In 2007, she earned a Master of Social Work degree and received the LISW-S designation. Her experience and knowledge promoted her to Director of Operations of the agency. Harless served as the Interim Director from May 2012 to February 2013, and she took over as Interim Director again on July 1, 2019.

Her passion to help children and families led her to a career in child welfare.

“I knew from my work as an intern that this was the job for me, having the opportunity to help impact the lives of others,” Harless said.

“Compassion is a core value in social work. Social workers must realize that no matter what people have done, they are still people and they need help. You must be able to put yourself in their shoes and understand their issues. You can’t be judgmental. You must be able to offer hope, understanding and care,” Harless said.

For 27 years Harless has worked to contribute to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect in Richland County and the State of Ohio.

The RCCS Board first developed a Search Committee during its regular meeting on July 8, 2019.  The committee created a job posting for the Executive Director position that ran through various outlets from August 1 – August 31, 2019.  The committee anticipated a state-wide search to target professionals with child protective services management or other relevant management experience.

The RCCS Board was committed to finding a talented leader who would successfully navigate the agency in its mission to “lead the community in assuring the safety, well-being and permanency of children at risk of abuse and neglect.”  The committee developed a strategy to involve community stakeholders in its task of identifying those qualifications and leadership characteristics best suited to achieve the mission. 

As the new Executive Director, Harless will develop and oversee agency policy, procedures, goals and objectives in all areas including communications, legal, finance, personnel, program and service. She will also ensure agency compliance with statutory and administrative rule requirements.



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