Lourdes R. Padilla, Secretary
Secretary Padilla leads a $2.6 billion agency with 6,500 employees serving more than 1 million Marylanders across the state. She has more than 28 years of experience in the human services field. Prior to her role as Secretary of DHR, she served as the Deputy Secretary for Income Maintenance at the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, where she oversaw an operating budget of more than $2 billion and operations for five bureaus under the agency, including Child Support Enforcement, Program Support, and Program Evaluation.
Gregory S. James, Deputy Secretary for Operations
Gregory James is the Deputy Secretary for Operations at the Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR). He has previously served in Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.’s office as a special assistant and senior policy advisor, working a range of issues including human services, juvenile justice, disabilities, education, health, public safety, economic development, and government reform. He was later appointed to be chief of staff for DHR.
Before returning to DHR in 2015, Greg was a principal at The Livingston Group, a Washington, D.C.–based government relations firm. Greg is a Maryland native and alumni of the University of Maryland in College Park, with a law degree from the College of William and Mary.
Craig F. Eichler, Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary for Strategy and Administration
Craig Eicher has extensive experience with strategic planning and performance, and human capital development. He has great skill and knowledge in change management, collaboration, and conflict resolution. Prior to coming to DHR, Craig was the Director of Operations for a midsize corporation where he designed plans and led initiatives to streamline organizational processes to improve operational costs and increase efficiencies. Craig also worked in corporate banking where he successfully led multiple integrations and FDIC receiverships.
In addition to his professional career, he retired from the USAF, and earned his Executive MBA from Loyola University, MD. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the Fuel Fund of Maryland. Craig is a proud father of two sons, coaches youth lacrosse, and is an avid outdoorsman and cyclist.
Tracey Paliath, Executive Director, Family Investment Administration
Tracey Paliath leads the state’s Family Investment Administration, which operates family assistance programs including food benefits, temporary cash, energy assistance, and workforce development, among others. Previously, Tracey served as DHR’s Deputy Secretary of Programs, and as the Assistant Director of Baltimore City’s Department of Social Services. Her expertise includes performance management, institutional reform litigation, financial accountability, and operations.
Prior to joining DHR, Tracey was the Director of Economic Services for Jewish Community Services (JCS) in Baltimore. There, she managed all aspects of delivery for career services, financial assistance, and case management services, including coordination of community programming and direct services to Holocaust survivors and refugees.
She is a frequent conference speaker and is very active in the community. Tracey is a graduate of University of Maryland School of Law. She is married with two daughters.
Rebecca Jones Gaston, Executive Director, Social Services Administration
Rebecca Jones Gaston has worked in the field of human services and child welfare for more than 19 years as a social worker, advocate, therapist, consultant, and administrator. She has extensive experience with community engagement, parent partners, mental health, and achieving permanency for children in care. She has worked throughout her career leveraging internal and external resources to increase the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families, and reduce the number of youth in out-of-home care.
As Executive Director of the Social Services Administration, Rebecca is responsible for planning and implementing strategies, policies, and procedures that ensure children and vulnerable adults are protected from abuse and neglect. She will continue to develop the Families Blossom initiative, strengthen adult services to meet the needs of a rapidly aging population, and ensure that children leave our care ready to thrive independently.
A long-time resident of Maryland, Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.