Lowry names Lyle Quasim to head DSHS

OLYMPIA - Gov. Mike Lowry today announced Lyle Quasim as the new Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Secretary. Quasim, 52, is currently Assistant Secretary of Health and Rehabilitative Services within DSHS. He replaces Jean Soliz, who announced her resignation in November to start a nonprofit legal advocacy organization for low-income children.

"Lyle Quasim is an outspoken, effective, hands-on worker who has proven throughout his career, inside and outside of this agency, that he knows how to get the job done," Lowry said. "I feel confident in his abilities as a manager and as a concerned advocate on behalf of children and people with special needs."

As assistant secretary, Quasim emphasized self-sufficiency for clients and developed programs to further the transition of persons with disabilities from institutional care to the workplace.

In 1988, Quasim formed the nonprofit Safe Streets Campaign to organize Pierce County residents against street gang and illegal drug activities. The campaign is recognized as a major contributor to the closure of 250 drug dealing locations and a 25,000 reduction in 911 calls in the county. The group won an award from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Public Administration for its efforts.

Prior to his work with Safe Streets, Quasim served as deputy director of the Division of Juvenile Rehabilitation and director of the Mental Health Division in a 15-year career at DSHS from 1973 to 1988. He returned to DSHS in 1993 at Soliz' request.

"Lyle has worked his way up the ranks in the agency and knows many of the details involved in service administration and budgeting," Lowry said. "His success in running a nonprofit organization demonstrates his savvy management sense and his commitment to improving the quality of life in our community. Lyle shares my vision of making DSHS a more accountable and efficient agency and making the health and safety of children its top priority."

Quasim is on the boards of the NAACP, Washington Council on Crime and Delinquency, Tacoma Community Foundation, Tacoma Central YMCA and Point Defiance AIDS Foundation. He will begin his new job on Dec. 11 to provide transition time before Soliz leaves at the end of the year. Quasim will remain at his current salary of $84,000 until Jan. 1, when he will assume the full secretary's salary of $111,368 annually.

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For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.