Director Scott Frakes has named Dawn-Renee Smith as deputy director for programs at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.
Smith has been with the department since 2005 and spent a number of years as a public-information officer and then director of communications for the department. She also has prior experience in developing Corrections programming which, Frakes said, is essential to getting people back into the community after release and to reducing recidivism.
She will fill the deputy position recently held by Mike Rothwell, who retired from the agency in August. Smith will be paid an annual salary of $124,112.
As deputy director, she will oversee the community corrections facilities, classification and transportation, volunteers, non-clinical programming, re-entry services and quality assurance.
“Our emphasis on programming cannot be overstated,” Frakes said. “We have built several goals around boosting programming into the agency’s new strategic plan. We know that giving people the tools that they need to live outside of prison will help keep them from coming back into the system. It provides them an opportunity for success.”
Smith knows the agency "inside and out," he said, starting as a caseworker at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution. She then managed the legislative and communications divisions, and served as the administrator for re-entry services.
As chief of staff, Smith administered research, communications and policy development, and accreditation. She has been a key policy adviser to Frakes.
"I am confident that Dawn-Renee will bring the same enthusiasm and leadership to the programs division,” he said.
Before joining the Department of Corrections, Smith worked in human services, including behavioral health, grant writing and fundraising.
“The work of the programs division is central to our ability to keep people safe,” Smith said. “I am looking forward to working with the programs division team as we continue to provide incarcerated men and women with opportunities for meaningful change.”
Smith’s appointment is effective Oct. 1.