Harp Names New Community Services Chief

Mayor Toni Harp has lured behavioral health expert Martha N. Okafor (pictured) back to Connecticut from Georgia to serve as New Haven’s new head of the Community Services Administration.

Okafor will start her position on May 28, according to a press release the mayor’s office issued Tuesday evening.

In her new job, Okafor will oversee the New Haven Health Department, the Department of Elderly Services, the Youth Services Department, and works with the state Department of Social Services to provide resources through State Administered General Assistance (SAGA).

“New Haven residents will benefit from Dr. Okafor’s extensive experience in the healthcare field as both an administrator and as an educator so I’m positively delighted to announce she’ll bring her expertise back to Connecticut next month,” Mayor Harp said in the release. “The city’s Community Services Administration has a broad and comprehensive set of responsibilities – I think we’ve identified and hired the ideal candidate for the job.”

According to the release, Okafor is “currently the director of the Division of Behavioral Health and an assistant pofessor at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Georgia,” as well as a “faculty member at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Massachusetts. She is also the Chief Executive Officer of a private community health and social services consulting business.”

“Previously, she served as a high-level administrator at the Georgia Department of Human Resources in the Public Health Division and the
Division of Family and Children Services. Prior to that, in Connecticut, Okafor was Director of the Family Health Division of the state Department of Public Health and Director of the Strategic Planning Division at the state Department of Social Services.

“I’m thrilled Dr. Okafor chose to return to Connecticut for the next chapter of her career and more specifically, chose to come to New Haven to join my administration,” Mayor Harp added.

Jackie James, acting deputy director of the CSA, will serve as acting director, effective Wednesday, until Okafor comes to town. Ron Manning, who has been the acting director, will resume his role Wednesday as deputy director.

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posted by: connecticutcontrarian on April 15, 2014  7:01pm

Director..Acting Director….Deputy Director…Directorial Assistant to the Acting Deputy Director of Directions..is it standard practice to have so many leadership positions or does the breadth of CSA services require this level of leadership?

posted by: UBHolden on April 15, 2014  9:17pm

Wait until this poor lady gets a look at the “deputies” she is surrounded by.

posted by: budman on April 15, 2014  9:39pm

Okay, so a qualified candidate, fantastic.  But can we please see the resume for Jackie James.  This should be public record, correct?  What qualifications does this person have?  Is this just another way to skate around the civil service process?

posted by: Elm City Lifer on April 16, 2014  1:04am


Maybe the question should be why did jackie james resign from her state job at DCF. She quits a state job after 16 years only a few years away from getting a pension, new haven indy are you ever going to look into this. If somebody abruptly resigned from some police job and word on the street was they were forced to or faced termination and then got a high level police job in new haven you would be getting the scoop. Why not now. Please investigate!!!!!!

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on April 16, 2014  8:13am

Brilliant move Mayor Harp.

Perhaps now, before the year is out, the city can witness real efforts in infiltrating the severe level of violence that continues to grip the city streets.

We’ll either see tepid approaches and huge lip service or genuine results.  Let’s pray for the latter.

posted by: Tell The Truth on April 16, 2014  12:43pm

Welcome Dr. Okafor!  You will be an asset to Mayor Harps cabinet.

posted by: Bobbe Bellamy on April 16, 2014  10:56pm

Wow - Wait ..... did I hear correctly?  The person ‘acting’ in this position until Dr. Okafor come aboard -  salary went from $77K (old position) to $111K- (new acting position)?  Where is this money coming from?  If the Administration even considers entertaining a tax hike of any kind, shame on them. Especially since the Administration is still creating “pay-back” jobs.  Whatever happened to getting/creating jobs for our inner-city young men and women. Haven’t seem much for them on the table. This whole picture seems to be only about greed.  Thinking only of themselves, at least for the next two years. No - I’m not hate’n.  I should have gotten more into politics.