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Pence names chief for Family and Social Services

– Indiana’s most complex agency has a new leader under Gov. Mike Pence’s new administration.

Debra Minott will run the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, which has an $8.6 billion budget and more than 4,000 employees.

Through a variety of programs, the behemoth agency also serves 1.3 million Hoosiers who are elderly, poor or have disabilities.

“It is in every sense the agency of our government that provides for Hoosiers among our most vulnerable population, our most challenged population,” Pence said. “We have a moral obligation to get it right.”

Minott previously served under Gov. Mitch Daniels as head of the State Personnel Department before leaving in 2007. In the private sector, she has worked at a number of health care companies, including most recently at Hill-Rom, a medical device manufacturer.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann also announced that Gina Sheets will head the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

She has handled that agency’s economic development and international trade efforts for several years.

Sheets and her husband also own a farm in Clinton County where they raise pasture poultry, free-range hens, pasture beef, rainbow trout and a variety of produce.

The two appointments add some diversity to Pence’s Cabinet, which previously had only one female agency head out of more than 20 positions.

Child-safety advocates are still waiting to see who will lead Indiana’s Department of Child Services.

Pence also announced he will be traveling to Washington, D.C., over the weekend to attend inauguration activities, then will deliver his first State of the State speech at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The Pence family is tentatively scheduled to move into the governor’s residence Feb. 2.