Pierce County ends college degree requirement for one department head

Staff writerAugust 6, 2013 

Ginny Dale


With more than 20 years experience in state human resources, Ginny Dale appears well qualified to direct human resources for Pierce County and its 3,000 employees.

She’s missing just one thing -- a bachelor’s degree, as required by county code.

The Pierce County Council altered that requirement Tuesday, clearing the way for the council to confirm County Executive Pat McCarthy’s appointee to lead the human resources department.

The council voted 6 to 0 without comment to add an alternative to the degree requirement for Dale’s job. The added option is any combination of experience and education “which would clearly indicate the ability to perform the duties of the position.”

The change makes the human resources job the only one of 16 department director jobs not requiring a college degree -- in most cases a bachelor’s degree -- under county code.

McCarthy picked Dale because she was the most qualified and the best fit among applicants, said Al Rose, director of justice services.

“You don’t want to stand in the way of hiring the most qualified person,” Rose said in an interview.

A council committee supported changing the code last week. But council members Stan Flemming, R-Gig Harbor, and Rick Talbert, D-Tacoma, also requested that McCarthy and her staff review the qualifications required for all department directors so the council won’t have to make piecemeal changes like this one again.

Rose said the executive’s staff will bring recommendations to the council in about two weeks.

Even then, not all jobs would have the same education requirements. Two directors’ jobs currently require advanced degrees: The director of assigned counsel must have a law degree and the medical examiner must have a doctor of medicine.

The council is expected to vote on Dale’s confirmation in about a month. Dale started work June 24. It’s standard practice for the county executive’s appointees to start work before they’re confirmed.

Dale worked more than two decades in human resources for the state starting in 1991, including seven years as an assistant director in the Department of Personnel. From October 2011 until she started with the county, she was deputy state human resources director in the Office of Financial Management.

In December, Dale was appointed acting state human resources director by then-Gov. Chris Gregoire.

She attended Central Washington University in 1990 and Pierce College in 2004, according to her resume. She’s also attended professional training programs.

Dale, 41, earns an annual salary of $130,000. She succeeded Betsy Sawyers, who retired in December.

Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647 steve.maynard@thenewstribune.com @TNTstevemaynard

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