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.

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.
Debi Reynolds

Debi Reynolds

Deputy Director - Fiscal Services
Debi Reynolds is the Department's Deputy Director for Fiscal Services, providing oversight over fiscal, audit, budget development and contracting activities. She has served the State of Nevada for more than 25 years, most recently as Administrative Services Deputy with the Division of Public and Behavioral Health. She has also served in the Governor’s Finance Office as a budget analyst for multiple agencies and held a variety of positions with the Division of Public and Behavioral Health throughout her career.

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

Marla McDade Williams

Cody Phinney

Robert Thompson

Stacie Weeks