All good things must come to an end, and for Lori Dodge-Dorsey, it comes bittersweet.
The director of the Madison County Department of Jobs and Family Services recently announced she would be retiring on Sept. 1.
“It felt like the right time, I’m still young and I have a great opportunity to make a smooth transition,” she said. “I don’t take it lightly and it required a lot of deliberation within myself. I love Madison County; I grew up here.”
Dodge-Dorsey started her career at the department in 1986 as a social worker, eventually working her way up to the director position in January 2012.
The staff members she has led over the last five-and-a-half years are what she is most proud of from her tenure, praising their hard work.
She said that the department had some difficult transitions, such as the merging of the director position for various departments, which everyone handled quite well.
“This agency had a lot of change and the staff, regardless of the challenges ahead, made the best effort and worked through it all,” she said.
She is also thankful for the community.
“I do appreciate how people here come together to support one another,” she said. “This is a hard job and it made everything easier.”
Other county officials mentioned how they’ll miss working with her. Commissioner Mark Forrest told The Madison Press he felt Dodge-Dorsey’s leadership was strong and helped improve the department in both personnel and financially.
“She’s a wizard at making things work financially, getting grants and all the rest of it,” he said. “The people she works with love her; she’s been wonderful, the best asset. She’s a wonderful person to work with, from her work ethic to her skills. I can’t say enough good, it’s a loss for the county but I understand, everyone needs to leave some time.”
She says she plans to use the time to spend time with family as well as focus a bit more on her favorite pastimes, such as playing sports. She looks forward to one of her favorite games, softball, where she participates in a travel team. Her league played in a tournament in Birmingham, Alabama, where they won a silver medal.
In the future, she mentioned she may return to the workforce part-time.
Forrest said that Dodge-Dorsey has been proactive in ensuring the transition from her leaving will be as smooth as possible.
“People in her position don’t have to put in the effort like she does,” Forrest said. “It’s something I’m grateful for.”
Starting in September, Dodge-Dorsey will be succeeded by Steve Kaifas, who currently serves as assistant director.
“I couldn’t leave it in better hands,” she said.
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, or on Twitter @msfkwiat.