Sheryl L. Spiller, whose 40-plus years with the county of Los Angeles began as a clerk typist, was sworn-in last week to lead the 13,500-employee Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) in its efforts to provide benefits and services to low-income individuals and families in the second largest locally operated social services agency in the nation.

With her official swearing in, Spiller became the first ever African American to lead the department in its nearly 100-year history.

During the swearing, Spiller, accompanied by her daughter and three grandchildren, received a standing ovation. She reflected on the lyrics of Whitney Houston’s version of “One Moment in Time,” which say “Each day I live, I want to be, a day to give the best of me.” She said she was personally moved as she listened to the Grammy-award-winning song.

Spiller has served as DPSS acting director since August 2011, after the former director, Philip L. Browning, was named to head the County Department of Children and Family Services.
She thanked the Board of Supervisors and chief executive officer for making it possible for someone at the lowest level to rise to the top.

“The County, under the leadership of the Board, has created extraordinary opportunities for professional development, making it possible for someone to begin employment at the lowest entry level and work their way up to head a major department,” Spiller said.

Spiller has served in various management positions, many of which have guided critical policy decisions for the department. She is also credited with spearheading a highly successful public outreach effort that resulted in more than 100,000 uninsured children being enrolled into Medi-Cal.