DCBS Commissioner Marta Miranda-Straub
Marta Miranda-Straub was appointed commissioner of DCBS by Gov. Andy Beshear July 1, 2020. She brings 47 years of social work practice experience at multiple levels to this leadership position. Miranda-Straub has served families and children through trauma, substance abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault intervention and gender equity and anti-racism activism.
Miranda-Straub is the founder of Catapult Now, LLC. As an executive consultant she provided organizational, leadership and board development, strategic planning, executive coaching, retreats, facilitation and training services to non-profit and for-profit organizations with a focus on equity and inclusion.
From 2011 to 2018 she served as President/CEO of The Center for Women and Families, a $6 million nonprofit that served more than 8,000 clients each year with rape crisis and domestic violence services for survivors and their children.
Before joining The Center, Miranda-Straub worked 17 years at Eastern Kentucky University as an associate professor in the Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work Department. There, she served as the chair of Women and Gender Studies and Multicultural Student Affairs. She also assisted in the design, implementation and evaluation of the Public Child Welfare Certification Program (PCWCP), which prepares social work students to work for DCBS upon graduation. She currently is part of the Spalding University faculty.
Miranda-Straub received the Martha Layne Collins Leadership Award in 2016. She was named a Daughter of Greatness by the Ali Center for her gender equity and erasing racism work and also was honored for her humane immigration reform and antiracism work by the Alliance Against Racist and Political Oppression and Jewish Family and Career Center. The Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs awarded her a SAMMy for her long-term work with survivors. Ampersand Sexual Violence Resource Center of the Bluegrass, formerly the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center, gave her its Pioneer Award for 40 years of advocacy and service to eradicating sexual assault. The Center for Women and Families named Miranda-Straub a 2020 Woman of Distinction. She also was named a Compassionate Laureate by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who has honored her by proclaiming Marta Miranda Day for her activism.
Her education includes a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and sociology from Florida International University in Miami, a master’s degree in clinical and organizational social work from Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla. and a PhD in honorary-public service from Spalding University in Louisville.
Miranda-Straub has served numerous groups over the years, including Metro United Way, Stoll, Keenon and Ogden, Junior League of Louisville, Backside Learning Center, Sweet Evening Breeze LGBTQ Youth Program and Leadership Louisville Executive Green Room. She is a published poet and long-time member of the Affrilachian Poets. Her memoir, Cradled by Skeletons: A Life in Poems and Essays, was published in Winter 2019 by Shadelandhouse Modern Press.
Miranda-Straub lives in Louisville with her husband, Cary Jude Straub, and their dog, Simon.
DCBS Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Caywood
Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Caywood has served the department since 1999. Most recently, she served as acting commissioner, chief of staff, internal policy analyst IV and executive advisor.
Caywood is a specialist in child welfare and family services. Her experience spans every public assistance, child care and social service program administered by the department, including regulation of various provider types and special projects. She is a member of the CHFS Institutional Review Board and has past experience as the chair of the Cabinet Appeal Board for Public Assistance, member of the secretary’s legislative team and lead Cabinet staffer for the 2009-2011 Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education.
Over the course her 20-year career at DCBS, Caywood has been instrumental in eliminating regulatory and statutory red tape, enhancing child protective services and appeals policies and affecting the state’s compliance with the federal mandate for comprehensive background checks of child care providers. She helped realize the passage of child welfare legislation from the last three regular sessions, including legislation concerning normalcy for foster children, foster youth driver’s licensing, fictive kin as an out-of-home care placement option and House Bill 1, the comprehensive child welfare legislation from the 2018 regular session.
Caywood has been an adjunct professor and guest speaker for the University of Kentucky’s College of Social Work. She previously served in Fayette County as a community developer, urban-county government eligibility counselor and felony court victim advocate. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from UK and has maintained social work certification in the Commonwealth of Kentucky since 1999.
DCBS Chief of Staff Lesa Dennis
Lesa Dennis was appointed DCBS chief of staff in July 2018. She provides coordination of and direct support to the commissioner on strategic and critical projects. Most recently, she served as DCBS director of service regions and was responsible for supervision and support of the department’s nine regions, including policy development and implementation and budget compliance.