DSS board has new member

Jul. 31, 2014 @ 05:08 PM

A Henderson minister has taken over Bill Scarlett’s seat on the Vance County Department of Social Services Board of Directors.

Vance County social services Director Tony Pedroza said she is excited to welcome Keith Benze to the board.

“It is great to have Pastor Benze join the DSS Board,” she wrote in an email. “He comes with years of business experience and compassion, which makes him an asset to the DSS team.”

Benze has been the minister at First Presbyterian Church in Henderson since October 2009.

Former Vance County Schools Superintendent Wayne Adcock, city councilwoman Feraldine Simmons and county commissioners Terry Garrison and Archie Taylor currently serve on the social services board.

Pedroza said board members are responsible for appointing the county social services director and evaluating the director’s performance.

The board also assists the director in planning the county social services budget and presents the proposed budget to the board of county commissioners, she said.

Board members establish local policies for public assistance and social services programs that are consistent with federal and state requirements.

They provide general oversight of the county social services department and advise local authorities with respect to social conditions of the community.

Benze has a bachelor's of science degree in chemistry from Northern Arizona University, a master’s of business administration from Brenau University and a master’s of divinity from Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia.

Prior to entering seminary, he spent 25 years working in quality assurance and regulatory compliance for Johnson & Johnson and Glaxo Wellcome — which is now GlaxoSmithKline.

“I’m still sort of in regulatory compliance — it’s just a different set of regulations,” Benze said.

Since moving to Henderson, Benze has been involved with several local nonprofits, including the Community Partners of Hope as well as the group’s homeless shelter in the First Presbyterian basement.

He said he wants to get involved with the board because social services deals directly with the social welfare programs he supports.

“Bill Scarlett asked if it was something I would be interested in doing, and I’m looking forward to getting started,” he said.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.