Magazine article Policy & Practice

In Memory

Magazine article Policy & Practice

In Memory

Article excerpt

Gregory Coler, Former Florida Social Services Chief

Gregory Coler, former head of the Florida social service department,, then known as the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, died March 4 from undisclosed causes, several years after suffering a debilitating stroke. He was 65.

He took over the department in 1987, which he declared when he assumed leadership was "junk." Four years later, Coler left the agency with a modern computer system that enabled investigators to track cases and assess the risk to abused and neglected children, a host of forward-looking prevention programs, and a more professional workforce invigorated by better training and held more accountable to administrators.

George Sheldon, the secretary of the Department of Children and Families--which arose from the old HRS after several programs were stripped from the agency's portfolio--wrote that "Greg served with distinction as the department head bringing a common sense approach to the agency. He was a tireless advocate for the most vulnerable and was a close friend to many of us."

A former social worker and administrator from Minnesota and New York, Coler was appointed by then-Gov. Bob Martinez to head Florida's chronically troubled social service system in 1987. …

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