DOYLESTOWN >> Amid the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bucks County Commissioners continue to re-shape their management team, filling three key leadership positions over the past four months.
Margaret A. McKevitt was appointed Chief Operating Officer in mid-March, Rachael K. Neff was named Director of Human Services in late May, and Bernard A. Griggs Jr. began work this month in the newly created position of Project and Diversity Officer.
“It is my absolute joy and honor to introduce these new leaders to Bucks County government,” said Commissioners’ Chair Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia. “Ms. McKevitt’s management style and drive is perfect as Bucks County moves to enhance and improve service, while Ms. Neff captured us with her knowledge and thoughtful approach to dealing with the myriad issues facing social services today. Having known and admired Mr. Griggs for many years, I know he will bring a necessary wisdom and informed approach to issues of diversity and developmental projects.”
Added Commissioner Bob Harvie: “One of the most important jobs of any elected executive is to find, hire, promote and empower high-quality people to help run the government. I'm thrilled to have had a part in making Ms. McKevitt, Ms. Neff and Mr. Griggs part of the county’s leadership team. The people of Bucks County should be proud to have people with their skills, intelligence and experience working for them.”
Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo said the new leaders “were selected for their exemplary performance in their chosen fields and a track record of devoted service and success. We are so excited to have them on board and see how their contributions will enhance our beautiful Bucks County.”
Margie McKevitt, a 36-year veteran of county government, was named interim COO in mid-February, replacing Brian Hessenthaler, who retired on Feb. 14. The appointment was made permanent a month later, just as the coronavirus pandemic was prompting a statewide shutdown, forcing county government to maintain operations with essential on-site personnel and extensive telecommuting.
As the county’s highest-ranking non-elected official, McKevitt is responsible for overseeing all day-to-day operations of county government, as well as facilitating cooperation between the functions of the county commissioners, row officers, division leaders and courts.
McKevitt, a Warrington resident, came to the job with extensive experience in the county’s planning and economic development operations.
She most recently served as Community Services Division Leader, overseeing the offices of Community & Economic Development, Consumer Protection, Military Affairs and the Planning Commission. She also has directed the Office of Community and Economic Development, and served as Coordinator of Economic Development and Planning Services for the Bucks County Planning Commission, among other positions.
As the county’s new Director of Human Services, Rachael Neff is charged with overseeing a vast division comprising more than 330 employees and an annual budget exceeding $240 million – most of it devoted to serving, protecting and strengthening some of society’s most vulnerable citizens, such as children, the elderly, and people contending with mental illness and developmental challenges. She succeeds Jonathan Rubin, who resigned last fall to become Pennsylvania’s Deputy Secretary for the Office of Children, Youth and Families.
A licensed social worker, Neff is the former Director of Special Court Programs for the State of Delaware Family Courts, where she helped lead programs involving child welfare, juvenile justice, domestic violence and alternative dispute resolution.
Prior to that, she was Delaware’s Statewide Court Improvement Coordinator, working with statewide stakeholders to improve outcomes in cases involving dependency and neglect. Neff also has served in leadership roles with organizations including the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania; A Second Chance, Inc., in Philadelphia; Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in New York; and Lutheran Settlement House in Philadelphia.
A resident of Green Lane, Montgomery County, Neff began her new duties on May 26.
As Bucks County’s Project and Diversity Officer, Bernard Griggs is responsible for overseeing capital projects across a range of county departments and agencies to ensure timely completion and compliance with county, state and federal labor standards and requirements.
Griggs also will work with the county’s Human Resources and Law Departments to prepare and implement a countywide diversity and inclusion plan aimed at recruiting a more diverse workforce and training staff on cultural, racial and gender awareness. He will represent the county, both internally and in the community, on issues of diversity and inclusion.
A resident of Chalfont, Griggs has more than two decades of experience as a worker and labor leader in the construction industry.
He served 18 years as Business Representative for the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, representing 44 unions with roughly 80,000 members. In addition to leading labor relations, negotiations and government affairs, he also oversaw the Building Trades Council’s Minority/Neighborhood Workforce Inclusion Program.
Before that, Griggs served three years as Director of Organizing for the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union Local 1 in Philadelphia, and was the first full-time African American representive of that union.
In addition to his professional duties, Griggs has served on the board of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, on the Montgomery County Strategic Economic Development Policy Task Force, the Montgomery County Development Corporation Board, and the executive board of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trades Unionists.
Griggs began his new duties for Bucks County on July 1.