Beverly Doherty, a health administrator from Wisconsin, has been named by D.C. Mayor A. Anthony Williams to take over the troubled District agency that supervises group homes for the mentally retarded.
Doherty, head of Wisconsin's Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services, will become head of the city's Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration on Jan. 30, said Carolyn Graham, deputy mayor for children and family.
The appointment comes two weeks after an article in The Washington Post revealed scores of instances of neglect in group homes and 116 deaths of residents since 1993. The D.C. Department of Human Services lost or concealed records regarding dozens of the deaths, and one case manager, Dwayne Franklin, shredded documents about a suspicious death, The Post investigation disclosed.
"It's going to take a sharp administrator" to address the problems, Graham said. "But she has put together a system [in Wisconsin] that really works."
Doherty, 55, who will be paid $80,000 a year, said in a telephone interview that the system can be fixed.
"I think there is a future where people with disabilities are respected and have good-quality services," Doherty said.
In April, Department of Human Services Director Jearline F. Williams ordered the removal of Frances Bowie, a 29-year city employee, as administrator of the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration. The action came after an earlier Post investigation found 350 documented cases of abuse and neglect this decade in the city's group home system as well as financial mismanagement by group home owners who were poorly monitored by several D.C. agencies.
Doherty "has a task," said Robert Coward, a spokesman for Capital Area Adapt, a disability advocacy group. "I really would hope that she gets out there and meets us and meets those with disabilities."