New Hanover County Board of Social Services appoints new director

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Michelle Winstead was announced as DSS Director on July 2.
Michelle Winstead was announced as DSS Director on July 2.

The New Hanover County Board of Social Services has transitioned Michelle Winstead into the role of DSS director following the former director’s retirement.

Winstead began work as an assistant director for the Department of Social Services (DSS) in September 2014 and was appointed interim director in February.

Her appointment came after former director LaVaughn Nesmith was placed on a 30-day administrative leave following a DSS Board of Director meeting, where in a closed session the board unanimously voted to place Nesmith on paid leave of absence.

DSS Chairman Jonathan Barfield Jr. declined to comment on the decision citing confidential personal matters, and Nesmith announced his retirement from the DSS a month later.

In July, New Hanover County DSS released a written statement announcing Winstead’s transition into the role of director.

“[Winstead’s] dedication to public service and passion for ensuring quality social services are just a couple of the factors the board considered in its decision to hire Ms. Winstead,” Barfield said.

Winstead has 22 years of experience in the health and human services field, including working as DSS director in Warren County.

“During the job offer, Ms. Winstead reiterated her enthusiasm for further collaboration with the county’s health and human services functions, in order to be more responsive toward and better serve the needs of our diverse community,” the news release states.

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