When Marc Cherna came to Allegheny County 21 years ago, the area’s youth and family services were seen as “a national disgrace.”
The agency was besieged by scandals. The number of young people being removed from their homes and put in the system was “out of control,” and its budget was rife with problems, he said.
Cherna was brought in to rehabilitate. A year after his 1996 start date, Cherna created the county Department of Human Services by taking 32 departments and merging them into five. Residents told his team they would benefit from centralized services.
“We want to be able to tell our story once,” Cherna recalls their clients saying. “Because most people who we serve have multiple issues and multiple problems, we formed a department and started that road of integrating.”
Cherna is now the longest reigning executive in the country.
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