New DSS director takes over

Keith Strange Civitas News Service

October 30, 2013

DOBSON — “I… do further swear that I will well and truly execute the duties of the office of Social Services Director of Surry County to the best of my skill and ability, according to the law, so help me God.”

With those words, Surry County has a new director at the helm of its social services department.

Kristina Dawn “Kristy” Preston was sworn in as the county’s new social services director during a brief ceremony Monday morning as hundreds of department employees crowded into the Commissioner’s Meeting Room at the County Government Center in Dobson.

She takes over the position from Interim Director Harry Maney, who has filled the seat since May, when long-time director Wayne Black resigned to take over as the state social services director.

Preston previously served as the director of the Stokes County social services department, a position she has held since 2010.

As her husband and children watched, Preston took the oath, then told the crowd she is ready to hit the ground running.

“I’m excited to be here and just ready to get started,” she said.

Commissioner Larry Phillips told the crowd that Preston is a “perfect fit,” to steer the county department.

“She has vast experience that makes her the logical choice,” he said.

It was a sentiment echoed by Commissioner Jimmy Miller.

“We’re happy to have her here,” he said with a smile. “This is a big deal, and I think she’ll do a great job.”

Preston has been employed by the Stokes County department since 1993, holding the positions of income maintenance caseworker II, social worker II, social worker III, and work supervisor III prior to assuming the director’s seat.

She is a native of Stokes County and holds a master’s degree in liberal studies from UNC-G, and a bachelor’s degree from Meredith College.

Shortly after taking the oath, Preston said the Surry County department has a great reputation in the state.

“For years I’ve heard a lot of good things about the department, it has an excellent reputation around the state and everyone here has been so welcoming,” she said.

Ironically, Preston said she wasn’t looking for a job when the position came open.

“I was happy in Stokes County, but when (Black) took the job in Raleigh, I told my husband that Surry County was probably the only county I’d move to since we have family in both Surry and Stokes counties,” she said. “It seemed like the right thing to do.”

While there will be a bit of a learning curve in her new position, Preston said many issues are statewide.

“I think right now the focus will have to be on the transition to NCFAST (new service management software North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology),” Preston said. “That’s pretty much what departments around the state are focusing on — getting that up and running.”

After getting her feet under her, Preston said she would like to learn as much as she can about the county’s child welfare and adult services units.

“But right now, I want to get here, get the feel of things, meet the people and just see what Surry County is all about and what you have to offer here,” she said. “Surry County is larger than Stokes County, but I’m ready to go.”

Reach Keith Strange at kstrange@civitasmedia.com or 719-1929.