Carolyn Colvin, the acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration, has held numerous positions at the agency over the years and has served as head of Human Services for the District of Columbia, director of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services and as secretary of Maryland's Department of Human Resources.
In an interview with Tom Fox, Colvin spoke about her motivation for public service, her leadership philosophy and her priorities for Social Security. Fox is a guest writer for On Leadership and the vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service.The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Q. What led you to a career in public service, and more specifically to the health and social welfare fields?
A. I came from an impoverished background, but we never really realized we were poor. We learned very early on that it was important to help others, starting with our family and then the broader community. I believed I could impact a larger population by coming into government. Health and social services were important to me because I thought these were basic rights and basic needs that every individual should have addressed, irrespective of their social or economic status.
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