DHHS Director's Office Leadership


The Director of the Department of Health and Human Services is appointed by the Governor to lead a staff of more than 6,900 and manage a biennial budget of more than $16 billion in state and federal funds. In addition, the DHHS Director serves in an advisory capacity as a member of the Governor's Cabinet.

Richard Whitley

Richard Whitley

Richard Whitley was appointed Director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in June 2015 and re-appointed by Governor Joe Lombardo in 2023.

As DHHS Director, Whitley oversees the five divisions that provide both direct services and public assistance programs for Nevadans in need: Aging and Disability Services, Child and Family Services, Health Care Financing and Policy (Medicaid), Public and Behavioral Health, and Welfare and Supportive Services. The efforts of DHHS comprise nearly one-third the entire state budget.

Whitley began state service as the senior psychologist for the Nevada Women’s Correctional Facility in 1986. He joined DHHS in 1997 within the Health Division’s Bureau of Disease Control and Intervention Services. Whitley held several positions within the Health Division before being asked to serve as its administrator in 2008. His responsibilities expanded in 2012 when he was asked to also serve as administrator for the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services. The two divisions officially merged in 2013, and Whitley became the first administrator of the newly created Division of Public and Behavioral Health.
Whitley holds a Bachelor’s degree from Willamette University, in Oregon, and a Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology from Western Oregon University.

Deputy Directors

Serving under the Director, DHHS Deputy Directors manage fiscal, personnel, information and other issues affecting the entire department.

Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

Deputy Director - Fiscal Services
Stacey Johnson is the Department's Deputy Director for Fiscal Services, providing oversight over fiscal, audit, budget development and contracting activities. Stacey has spent more than 25 years serving the State of Nevada in several agencies, including State Parks, Office of the Military, State Treasurer’s Office, the Division of Public and Behavioral Health and the Governor’s Finance Office.
Marla McDade Williams

Marla McDade Williams

Deputy Director - Programs
Marla McDade Williams is the Department’s Deputy Director of Programs, providing oversight to the five Divisions’ programs. Marla most recently served as Senior Director for Northern Nevada for Strategies 360. She previously worked for the Department of Health and Human Services for 10 years, including time as Deputy Administrator for the Division of Public and Behavioral Health and serving as a Bureau Chief over the regulation of health facilities. Prior to working at DHHS Marla worked for the Research Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau as a principal policy analyst for health and human services. Marla earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Washington State University and her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Vanessa Alpers

Vanessa Alpers

Deputy Director - Administrative Services
Vanessa Alpers serves as the Department’s Deputy Director for Administrative Services. She has been with the Department of Health and Human Services for over 20 years. Through her time with DHHS, she has served in a variety of roles in the Director’s Office as well as the agency’s Divisions. Vanessa holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.

Division Administrators

Each DHHS division — Aging and Disability Services, Child and Family Services, Public and Behavioral Health, Welfare and Supportive Services, and Health Care Financing and Policy — is led by an administrator who reports to DHHS Director Whitley.

Dena Schmidt

Cindy Pitlock

Lisa Sherych

Robert Thompson

Stacie Weeks