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Cynthia Miller, Director of Interagency Planning & Placement Office of Disability Policies & Programs

Cynthia Miller, Director of Interagency Planning & Placement
Office of Disability Policies & Programs

What Cynthia Miller loves about public service most is helping people solve problems, and as a dedicated public servant, Miller has spent nearly 30 years in state service doing just that. For the past five years Miller has been the Director of Interagency Planning & Placement at the Executive Office for Health and Human Services. She recently added another title to her resume. Ombudsman.

“I’m very excited and I feel fortunate to know there is a level of confidence in me to be one of the first faces to interact with constituents who are upset, disappointed or are seeking services,” Miller said. We sat down with Miller to find out just how she does it.

Q.) What do you think makes you in particular good at your job?

A.) I have the constant knowledge that there is always more to learn and that since I never know where the most important lessons will come from, I try to really listen to people, using all of my senses.

Q.) You mentioned a motto your former boss would say, “Never worry alone.” Are there any situations, either specific or broad that made you think of that or that you apply that to?

A.) Yes. In general, by the time people ask for help, they are already emotionally spent, or at least have been living in a state of worry, uncertainty, or suffering. This is just human nature; we like to think of ourselves as competent and resourceful. The mere act of asking for help requires adding personal vulnerability to what is already a mix of unpleasant emotions. Because of this, I believe that those of us on the receiving end of a request for help should communicate to the person in some way that even if we don’t have an immediate answer or solution, we will not leave them to continue to worry alone until the situation is resolved.

Q.) Has keeping that motto in mind helped you get to where you are now?

A.) Absolutely. I am realistic enough to know that I will not be able to help every person achieve everything they would like to happen for themselves, but by keeping this motto in mind, I can at least hope to inspire people to never give up, and inspire those of us in the service system to remember to take collective ownership of solutions

Q.) How would you apply that to your new position as ombudsman?

One reason people reach out to an Ombudsman is because they are dissatisfied with all of the options given to them.  Another reason people contact an Ombudsman is because they feel an injustice has occurred.  For these situations, the motto applies in that we can say with 100 percent certainty that EOHHS is always interested in a full set of facts and in making sure people are fully informed about options for correcting an injustice.  In this way, the worry instead becomes common ground.

Q.)What has been the most rewarding part about public service and the positions you have held with the state?

A.) I’ve been able to witness the astounding courage and resilience of people, both of people who have received services from an EOHHS agency and people who have worked in human services.

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