Honoring 100 for the 100th: Howard Hendrick

For more than 25 years, Howard Hendrick served as an advocate for and an administrator of services for disadvantaged Oklahomans. For twelve years, he served as a member of the Oklahoma State Senate on the Health and Human Services Committee. In June, 1998, he resigned from the Senate and was selected as Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, a position he held until his retirement in March, 2012. During his nearly 14 years as Director, he also served as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Human Services for Republican Governor Frank Keating and for eight years served as Cabinet Secretary for Human Services for Democratic Governor Brad Henry. He was also elected President of the board of the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) and served on the Executive Committee of the National Children’s Alliance.

Under his leadership, the Department’s performance was exceptional. Child support collections tripled from less than $100 million per year to more than $300 million per year. A robust electronic online payment and e-card distribution of child support payments supplemented by an electronic filing system for use by an expedited Administrative Court system with statewide administrative law judges accelerated payments from non-custodial parents to custodial parents. During his nearly 14-year tenure, more than 16,000 children were adopted out of foster care through the Swift Adoption initiative, the highest per capita adoption rate of any state during the first decade of the century. Excitingly, even more children were reunited with their parents. Oklahoma led the Nation in Child Care Licensing standards and compliance according to the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies. The Nation’s first eChild Care system was deployed permitting parents needing subsidized child care to “swipe” an attendance card to create a fraud proof reimbursement system for providers which paid them weekly on a tiered reimbursement method based on a Quality Rating System. For seniors, the state transformed its long-term care delivery practices from a primary dependence on nursing home care for Medicaid eligible seniors to primary dependence on home and community based Medicaid services, saving millions of dollars and improving the “stay at home” lifestyle desired by seniors. Community based services were also expanded for the intellectually disabled while reducing dependence on facility based care. Five times, the regional office of USDA selected Oklahoma as the top performing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps) in the Southwest region for accuracy and timely delivery of food assistance. These food assistance services were particularly significant after the recession of 2001 which followed the bombing of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2008 which followed the global banking collapse which led to swelling numbers of unemployed Oklahomans while state budget and staff freezes limited the resources to meet the need.

In addition to being selected for membership into the University of Oklahoma School of Social Work Hall of Fame, the American Public Human Services Association granted him their highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award in the year of his retirement, 2012.

Mr. Hendrick’s undergraduate degree is from Southern Nazarene University and he has two degrees from the University of Oklahoma, a M.B.A. and a J.D. He has served on the University of Oklahoma’s Board of Visitors for both the School of Accounting and the School of Social Work and is an emeritus member of the School of Social Work Board of Visitors.

28 comments (Add your own)

1. Larry Johnson wrote:
Mr. Hendrick is the most compassionate leader I've ever known. His encouraging and hopeful attitude about "what can be" gave impetus to us all at DHS to believe in ourselves and our mission. Very great man.

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 12:52 PM

2. Deanna J. Eakle wrote:
Director Hendricks was always kind and attentive to all employees on all levels even those on the County level. He always asked what we needed to be able to serve Oklahomans better. His excellent leadership is greatly missed at the Department of Human Services during this trying time.

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 1:41 PM

3. Victria Lynch wrote:
Howard Hendricks was not only concerned about the citizens that were served by the Dept of Human Services, he was very concerned about the Social Workers providing those services. He showed compassion and dedication that was far above and beyond any other Director that I served under in my 33 years with the state!

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 1:44 PM

4. Donnita Heck wrote:
Howard H. Hendrick, former Director of DHS, clearly demonstrated authentic leadership. He encouraged employee engagement from all levels of the agency. It truly was a pleasure to work beside him during my tenure at DHS. He challenged the status quo and effectively changed the negative perception of "welfare" as being a handout to "Human Services" as helping hands. Ours last conversation ~ The Prayer of Jabez.

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 3:03 PM

5. Tom Wright wrote:
When I had my heart attack, HHH was the first call, the first visitor, and the first get well card!! I don't think I need to say any more than that!

Great man, good friend, exceptional leader! Thanks, Director Hendrick, THANKS!

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 4:07 PM

6. Rebecca Rawson wrote:
Miss Mr. Hendricks and his visits to the office.. Such a compassionate, understanding, dedicated man.

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 6:39 PM

7. Stella K Church wrote:
What can I say about someone you totally respect and loved working for. I would say God knew the path Howard would take and the accomplishments he would have. I call Howard a true friend and he loves History like I do. We could talk for hours about Lincoln and travel. Howard moved back to Oklahoma and my husband and I are moving to California but no matter where we live a call with Howard always makes me happy. Thank You OU this is an honor much deserved.

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 7:23 PM

8. Rita Hart wrote:
Director Hendricks was a role model for DHS. He led with dignity and respect and spoke with as much transparency as possible. He loved God and his family first which was a true representation of his faith. I met him several times, a worker, supervisor and then part of his leadership team as county director. He always took the the time to listen and learn.

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 9:07 PM

9. Beth Batman wrote:
Director Hendrick never forgot anyone's name even if you only met once. He treated everyone with respect and called each one working at DHS higher. His leadership was sorely missed when he left. So glad he is being honored. He deserves more.

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 9:22 PM

10. Deborah Baldwin wrote:
I did not know Mr Hendricks in any capacity other than just by reputation and met him only a few times when he visited the county offices. He seemed a genuinely caring man who was honestly concerned about not only the clients of DHS, but was sincerely concerned about the many employees of DHS as well. The whole atmosphere at DHS was completely different during his tenure. He was positive and upbeat to those of us in the field jobs and that was reflected in how the County Directors and supervisors ran their respective counties. I realize tough financial times make it hard on those who run any agency as well as field staff to keep a stiff upper lip and maintain a normal, whatever that is, positive work atmosphere. At best it is a difficult arena to work in with people whose needs are so limitless. That in itself takes a toll on everyone. There aren't many, if any, Howard Hendricks' left in State or probably Federal government positions anymore. Everybody is too busy trying to not only keep their own jobs but overall keeping the Agency running on a shoe string budget with continuing cuts in funding every year. Yes, his departure as DHS head was one that will not soon be replaced or be forgotten. In my 38 years I saw many DHS directors come and go. He was definitely one of the best.

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 9:42 PM

11. Cheryl Willie, Executive & Legislative Asst. wrote:
I was blessed to work with Director Hendrick for almost 25 years at OKDHS, as well as, the OK State Senate. Howard is a man of God who served with his big heart -- the oppressed, the less fortunate, the elderly, the disabled, his constituents, and even to this day, to all those he associates or comes in contact with. He gave 100% to whatever he did as Director and Senator. His contributions to Oklahoma and those he served will never be fully known because there are so many. If you had the pleasure of any contact or interaction with him, you were touched. Like Will Rogers who said "I've never met a man I didn't like", thus goes Howard Hendrick. A brilliant man who could have used his God given intelligence and talents for self gratification and wealth but chose to be a Godly public servant to all Oklahomans!! Boss, the honor was all mine.

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 11:01 PM

12. Victoria Harrison wrote:
I had the pleasure of working with Howard Hendrick and can't say enough about his brilliance and compassion. He understood the people he served and that included his employees. We were a team of innovative staff that worked to meet he needs of Oklahoma citizens. He paved the way and gave permission for us to be our best.

Mon, August 7, 2017 @ 11:54 PM

13. Tommy White wrote:
A caring soul, and an excellent leader.

Tue, August 8, 2017 @ 8:25 AM

14. Sandy Bourquin wrote:
A great Director who was in the trenches right along the side of us. He never forgot your name and he sat and listened to you without rushing you. He was compassionate with staff and clients alike. Well deserving of this honor.

Tue, August 8, 2017 @ 9:47 AM

15. Linda Hughes wrote:
I think Howard Hendricks was the smartest man I have ever personally known and had the pleasure to work for! I feared going to meetings with him in the beginning but soon learned what great learning experiences they would be. He taught us all to think beyond the box. I just wish he would run for Governor of Oklahoma! This state needs his intelligence and leadership in the worst way!
This honor could not be more well deserved.

Tue, August 8, 2017 @ 10:42 AM

16. Tonya Worbes wrote:
Director Hendrick was one of the most compassionate directors I have had the privilege of working for in my 36 years with DHS. He truly cared about his staff. This honor is well deserved!

Tue, August 8, 2017 @ 11:58 AM

17. Susie Krogh wrote:
Director Hendrick made it a priority to visit every county office in Oklahoma. I don't think anyone else had ever done that before. I know he was appalled by conditions in some of the small county offices and I believe several of those small counties now have nicer work places as a result of his visits. He cared about his workers and he cared about the people of Oklahoma. Howard Hendrick once presented me with an award for Best of the Best...I would like to do the same for him! And by the way, remember those girls golf team National wins for SNU?

Tue, August 8, 2017 @ 1:03 PM

18. Lynn Childers wrote:
Director Hendrick was the Best of the Best. It was truly a blessing to work for him. He cared so much about the people we served at DHS and he also cared about each and every one of us who worked for him. This honor is well deserved.

Tue, August 8, 2017 @ 4:03 PM

19. Thomas Kalayilparampil wrote:
Howard Hendricks was my boss when I worked for OKDHS. He was a great man with many talents and a genuine human touch. We were good friends and I will always cherish our friendship!

Tue, August 8, 2017 @ 8:25 PM

20. LIsa Holley wrote:
DIrector Hendrick is so deserving of these accolades and much more...a compassionate, wise, approachable leader who is greatly missed. He served with honor and taught us all through his example to create a culture of honor for ourselves, our co-workers and the people we serve. Thank you-Director Hendrick.

Tue, August 8, 2017 @ 8:42 PM

21. Karen Moore wrote:
Compassion, honor, dignity, and respect are words that come to mind when I think of Director Hendrick. He brought those things with him to the agency as it's leader and he demonstrated those things to the employees of the agency and the people the agency serves. He made you proud to be an employee of DHS and made you want to do your best. He truly had the heart of a servant and that is how he led the agency. Thank you, Director Hendrick, for your service to the people of Oklahoma.

Tue, August 8, 2017 @ 9:47 PM

22. Mary Stalnaker wrote:
I worked for the Department of Human Services for almost 40 years. Howard Hendrick was the best Director that the Agency has had. I was proud to be hpart of his Executive Team for 10 years.

Tue, August 8, 2017 @ 11:04 PM

23. Jennifer Abney wrote:
Mr Hedrick received an email from me in 2008, requesting a meeting to discuss an idea I had to bring Angels Foster Family Network to Oklahoma. Within 20 minutes, he responded and he introduced me to the world of foster care in OK County. He was instrumental in giving all families the incredible support they needed to be successful. He will forever hold a very special place in my heart.

Wed, August 9, 2017 @ 9:51 AM

24. Hope Hedrick wrote:
I worked for DHS for 31 years in several areas but mostly Child Welfare. I never met a Director who was as hands on and involved as Howard Hendrick. He was so involved with county staff and took recommendations seriously from all employees. You really felt that he was behind staff! He did encourage us to speak up in meetings and workshops and indeed think outside the box. Great man and leader!

Wed, August 9, 2017 @ 9:15 PM

25. Linda J. Gibson wrote:
Director Hendrick is a multi talented and deeply passionate gentleman, who directed his employees with kindness and support. He has deep spirit and pride in the work that we delivered at DHS. He took the time to walk among his staff. I am honored to have served the people of Oklahoma and to have known and worked with Mr. Hendrick.

Fri, August 11, 2017 @ 7:59 PM

26. Pamela Castor wrote:
I knew and worked for Howard Hendrick while with DHS. This recognition could not have gone to a more deserving individual. In my thirty years of employment, he was the most compassionate and caring leader DHS ever had. He truly cared about not only our clients but our employees as well. He challenged employees to think outside the box and always continue to ask why. He was involved and a hands on leader. Yet, he is a most humble man as well. Never forgetting we are here by the Grace of God. It is an honor that I got to know him and work for him. He is a most awesome man and the best recipient you could have chosen for this honor.

Sat, August 12, 2017 @ 10:14 PM

27. Thomas McDonald wrote:
I had the pleasure of knowing Howard Hendrick both when he was in the State Senate and when he was Director of OKDHS. He was a man of do not just talk. He truly cared about not only the staff of OKDHS but also the clients. I am honored to be able to call him not only Senator but also friend.

Sat, August 12, 2017 @ 10:30 PM

28. Paula Hearn wrote:
It was a real honor to work for Howard Hendrick. He modeled servant leadership, and his intelligence and dedication to the mission of DHS were accompanied by great humility and faith-based goodness. I place him among the greats!

Mon, August 14, 2017 @ 3:59 PM

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