About Human Services

The Human Services Department provides Virginia Beach citizens the opportunity to achieve the highest level of self-sufficiency, safety, and quality of life possible, through an array of coordinated services delivered in a climate of dignity, respect and accountability.

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 Executive Leadership

​Dannette R. Smith, Director, Human Services

Ms. Danette Smith was selected to be the Director for the Virginia Beach Human Services Department effective July 1, 2013. She leads over 1,400 staff members, across eight divisions, ​and manage​s a budget in excess of $112 m​illion. This budget funds approximately 60 programs, offering Virginia Beach citizens the opportunity to achieve the highest level of self-sufficiency, safety, and quality of life possible, through an array of coordinated services which are delivered in a climate of dignity, respect, and accountability. Ms. Smith​ has over 30 years of executive level leadership experience including: Director of Human Services for the City of Seattle, Washington; Regional & ​County Director of the Fulton County Department of Family and Children Services, Atlanta Georgia; Director of Youth and Family Services Division of the Department of Social Services, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina; Several non-profit organizations serving children and families, Chicago, Illinois. Ms. Smith has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Eastern Michigan University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois. 

Contact Info: Human Services Administration, 3432 Virginia Beach Blvd, Suite 342, Virginia Beach, VA 23452 / (757) 385-3613 / Fax (757) 385-3466 

Aileen L. Smith, Deputy Director, Director of Community Services Board

Ms. Aileen Smith has worked in the field of intellectual disabilities, mental health, substance use and prevention for the last 24 years. Mrs. Smith began her career by working for First Hospital Corporation in various roles to include: Intake and Admission, Crisis Counseling, Family Counseling on the Adolescent Unit, Quality Assurance and she also provided direct services to clients on all of the units at the Norfolk Psychiatric Center. During the early part of her career she also worked for the Barry Robinson Center. In 1995, Mrs. Smith started her employment with the Norfolk Community Services Board and she worked for this agency for 17 years. She performed many different leadership roles for the NCSB to include the MR Director position from 1998-2002, the MR and Family Development Director (which included oversight of the Youth programs and the Prevention services) from 2002-2006 and the Community Support Director position from 2006-2012. The Community Support Director position primarily focused on adults who were diagnosed with a mental health and a substance use diagnosis. In February of 2012, Mrs. Smith became employed with the City of Virginia Beach’s Human Services Department as a Clinical Services Coordinator for mental health and substance use services. During her first year with the agency she was asked to provide additional oversight for the entire MHSA Division and also for the Community Services Board side of the agency. She was hired as the CSB Deputy Director on March 16, 2013. Mrs. Smith has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Counseling from Old Dominion University. A graduate from the LEAD Leadership program at the University of Virginia, Ms. Smith became a Fellow of Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform in March of 2016. She currently serves on the Center Advisory Committee (CAG) of the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice which is a Center of excellence established by Governor McAuliffe to help the Commonwealth understand and address overrepresentation of persons with behavioral health challenges in the judicial system. 

Contact Info: Community Services Board Administration, 297 Independence Blvd, Suite 302, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 / (757) 385-0504 / Fax (757) 473-2102 

Gailyn Thomas, Deputy Director, Director of Social Services

Ms. Gailyn Thomas j​oined the department on November 24, 2014. Ms. Thomas has more than 25 years of executive level experience creating and directing successful programs and initiatives within state government; and has a strong background in child welfare, child protection, and juvenile justice. After completing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work at Xavier University of Louisiana, Ms. Thomas earned her MSW at Washington University School of Social Work in St. Louis, Missouri.  After this, she enrolled in a Doctorate program at the University Of Illinois School Of Social Work, in Chicago.

Originally from New Orleans, Ms. Thomas re-located to Virginia Beach from Chicago, Illinois, where she was recently responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of a statewide aftercare program for the Department of Juvenile Justice.  This was an innovative pilot program which served more than 1,500 youth.  Part of this program required her to enga​ge key community partners, including partnerships with vital Youth Services organizations.   Prior to this, she was with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for over fourteen years, where she was responsible for the statewide Division of Child Protection.  In this role, she was responsible for overseeing approximately 1,100 Child Protection investigative staff and providing services to children and families in 102 counties.  Other positions that she held at DCFS were Assistant Chief of Staff, Child Protection Manager, and Supervisor. In addition to her program development and leadership experience, Ms. Thomas is experienced in grant administration and budgeting, policy development, and community relations. 

Contact ​Info: Social Services, 3432 Virginia Beach Blvd, Suite 342, Virginia Beach, VA 23452 / (757) 385-3262 / Fax (757) 385-3466 

Donald R. Kirtland, Deputy Director of Continuous Quality Improvement

Dr. Donald R. Kirtland, PHD, LMFT, LPCC, joined the department on April 1, 2014, as Deputy Director of Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). Dr. Kirtland received his Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, Summa Cum Laude, from the California Southern University and his Masters in Counseling Psychology from the American Behavioral Studies Institute in Santa Ana, Ca.  He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Computer Methods, from California State University. He h​as more than 25 years experience in IT and healthcare quality and brings unique knowledge of complex, multifaceted healthcare systems and multiservice settings, along with extensive experience in facilitating relationships to provide quality service delivery in a multidisciplinary environment. 

Contact Info: Continuous Quality Improvement, 297 Independence Blvd., Pembroke 6, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 / (757) 385-0642 / Fax (757) 473-2104 

Medical Director

Contact Info: The Pathways Center at Birdneck, 409 Birdneck Circle, Virginia Beach, VA 23451 / (757) 385-6950

Dawn Rykheart, Business Administrator

Ms. Dawn Rykheart joined the department on December 8, 2014, as the Business Administrator. Originally from New Jersey, Ms. Rykheart has strong family ties to Southwest Virginia and moved to Virginia Beach in 2003. After nine and a half years with the City of Norfolk, Ms. Rykheart was attracted to this opportunity to advance her career in a direct social services delivery system. She is excited about the privilege to come to work in and serve the city where she lives.

Ms. Rykheart earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Kean University in Union, New Jersey. She devoted the first decade of her career to various social service related organizations where she progressed from the position of accounting manager to Director of Operations for Prevent Child Abuse –NJ and then to Finance Manager for Hands, INC, a nonprofit housing developer. From there she moved into the banking industry where she held various leadership positions before going to work for the City of Norfolk.

Ms. Rykheart started in Norfolk as an Accountant IV and then held the position of Senior Quality and Finance Analyst for several years. In this position, she was responsible for developing budget, policy, and planning recommendations consistent with City Council and City administration priorities. This involved assessing and advocating for the needs of city departments, including Human Services, the City Manager’s Office, City Auditor’s Office and Human Resources, along with City-wide personnel budgeting. Most recently Dawn has served for six and a half years as the Operations Controller for the Norfolk Community Services Board, managing the finance, reimbursement and human resources divisions. 

Contact Info: Human Services Administration, 3432 Virginia Beach Blvd, Suite 349, Virginia Beach, VA 23452 / (757) 385-3204 / Fax (757) 385-3466

Wendy T.  Voliva, Media and Communications Coordinator

Ms. Wendy T. Voliva is a seasoned veteran of the marketing and communications industry. She is responsible for managing and directing the Human Services Department internal and external communications. She works closely with the director to promote the mission and vision of the Department. Wendy has over 20 years of experience in marketing, public relations, communications, advertising, and media relations. She holds a B.S. in Marketing, from The University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is a member of the Hampton Roads Chapter of Public Relations Society of America (HRPRSA).

Contact Info: Human Services Administration, 3432 Virginia Beach Blvd, Suite 348, Virginia Beach, VA 23452 / (757) 385-3313 Fax (757) 385-3466 

Patrick Pendleton, Human Resource Administrator​​

Mr. Patrick Pendleton joined the Department of Human Services on August 31, 2017 as the Human Resources division director. Mr. Pendleton has over 20 years of administrative leadership and supervisory experience, and 15 years of organizational budgetary and human resources experience in federal, state, and local governments     (U.S. Navy, state of South Carolina, and city of Alexandria, VA.)

Mr. Pendleton is a certified IPMA Human Resources senior professional and a Registered Public Safety Leader with the association of Public Safety Communication Officials (APCO). He also has an MBA with a Healthcare Management (HCM) concentration from St Leo University. Mr. Pendleton is certified in Law Enforcement Budgeting, High Impact Supervision, and Leadership and Command Strategies by the Penn State University, PA.

Contact Info: Human ​Services Administration, 3432 Virginia Beach Blvd, Suite 342, Virginia Beach, VA 23452 / (757) 385-3343​ / Fax (757) 385-3466 ​​​

Andrea L. Lowe, MPH, CPH, Strategic Analyst

Ms. Lowe is responsible for assisting the Director with long- and short-term strategic planning within the Human Services Department. She works across the leadership team to advise on operational and administrative processing and reporting and develops strategies to continue the Department's commitment to implementing high quality programs for citizens of Virginia Beach.  Prior to serving in this role she has worked for national, state, and local health departments and non-profits in a variety of policy, program, and strategic development roles.  She has significant grant writing experience; securing and implementing a number of federal and foundational grant programs providing continuing education opportunities for health professionals on prevention and public health topics. In addition, her policy experience focuses on federal advocacy and education across a range of health topics including injury and violence prevention, nutrition, clinical trials, and minority and women's health issues. Ms. Lowe holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech and a Master of Public Health degree in Health Policies and Programs from the University of South Florida and has nearly 10 years of experience in policy and program management specializing in health equity, minority health, and improving access to care.

 Contact Info: Human Services Administration, 3432 Virginia Beach Blvd, Suite 348, Virginia Beach, VA 23452 / (757) 385-3266 Fax (757) 385-3466 


 Divisional Leadership

Elizabeth Batista-Boone, Adult and Employment Services, Admin​istrator​

Ms. Elizabeth Batista-Boone has over 25 years of experience working in the Human Services profession. She graduated with a BA in Psychology from the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ. After graduating she returned to her home town of Jersey City, NJ, where she began her professional career as a Director of Prenatal Services for a Health Clinic. There she received much of her practical experience and solid foundation as a Social Worker.  

Ms. Batista-Boone joined the Virginia Beach Human Services Department (HSD) in 1999 shortly after relocating to Virginia Beach from New Jersey.  After receiving her Masters in Clinical Social Work - MSW from Norfolk State University, she followed her passion of working with domestic violence victims and survivors. Utilizing her grant writing skills she wrote her way into a newly developed position as the Domestic Violence Clinician for HSD. Several years later after firmly establishing the domestic violence program she decided to return to her first love as a leader and manager. She has been the administrator for the Adult and Employment Services Division since 2013.     

Contact Info: Social Services, 3432 Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23452 / (757) 385-3524

Timothy M. Capoldo, Developmental Services, Administrator​

Mr. Timothy Capoldo has over 23 years of experience in the Intellectual Disabilities, Mental Health and Substance Use field and comes to us from Norfolk where, as ID Director, for the Norfolk CSB, he has overseen the City of Norfolk’s Intellectual Disability Support Coordination program, Infant and Part-C Services, Child and Adolescent Services, Intake and Outpatient Services, ID Residential and the Virginia Independent Clinical Assessment Program (VICAP). He served as the State ID Director Chair from 2013 to 2015.  Mr. Capoldo received his Bachelor’s in ​Psychology and his MPA from Old Dominion University. ​
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Contact Info: Human Services Developmental Services, Pembroke 6, 297 Independence Blvd., Suite 218, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 / (757) 385-0601 / Fax (757) 473-5235

D. Rebecca China, Children's Services Act (CSA), Administrator

D. Rebecca China began her role with the department as Children's Services (CSA) Administrator on September 22, 2015.  Ms. China holds a B.A. degree in Psychology from Mary Washington College and a M.B.A. from Old Dominion University.  Ms. China began her career in the Tidewater area where she worked for the Tidewater Youth Services Commission for 17 years operating group homes, electronic monitoring and created their 501 (c)(3) foundation.  While in this role, she served on the original funding committee that created the CSA funding streams. 

Ms. China served in executive management in both state and local government as well as in the non-profit and for-profit private sectors.  Her experience includes managing program funding for local juvenile justice programs in Virginia communities to include detention centers, group homes and community programs for DJJ and building a private company specializing in mental health services for juvenile corrections, First Corrections Corporation, for First Hospital Corporation from two people to 500 employees in six states and Puerto Rico. Shortly after 9/11, Ms. China decided to return to working locally where she served as the Executive Director for Jackson-Feild Homes for six years and developed the mothers and babies program for foster care teen mothers. 

In 2009, she accepted the position of CSA Administrator for the City of Richmond where she served for six years.   She stayed an extra year to serve in several executive roles for Social Services during a time of transition before returning back to Tidewater where her family resides.    

Contact Info: Social Services, 3432 Virginia Beach Blvd, Suite 337, Virginia Beach, VA 23452 / (757) 385-3341 / Fax (757) 385-3466 

Angela M​. Hicks, Mental Health Substance Abuse, Administrator

Ms. Angie Hicks has been a resident of Virginia Beach for the last 18 years and started her position as the Mental Health Substance Abuse Program Director on August 1, 2013.  She has 21 years of experience in the mental health and substance use field during which she worked in psychiatric hospitals in Boston and Virginia Beach where she gained clinical experience with children, adolescents and adults.  Her inpatient experience also involved program development, quality assurance and risk management.   In 2001, Ms. Hicks moved into community-based services and worked in the CSB system for the Norfolk Community Services Board.  For the last decade, she has held progressive leadership roles that included direct supervision of Mental Health Case Management, Mental Health Support Services and for several years she was the Team Leader for a 24/7 PACT (Program of Assertive Community Treatment) program.  She was also the Director of Community Support Services which included the oversight of a diversity of MHSA programs geared toward promoting successful community integration for individuals with serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders. For the last three years, she has served as the Virginia Beach Mental Health Substance Abuse Division Director and has ushered in service enhancements such as a new PACT team, Enhanced Care Coordination, and REVIVE!  She serves on regional committees including the Mental Health / Substance Abuse Council and the Region V Program Services and Development Committee.  Her history also includes participation in the Homeless Consortium and local Continuum of Care and the V​irginia Beach Mental Health Coalition.  

Ms. Hicks is a Registered Nurse and a champion for the integration of behavioral and medical care. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master’s degree in Business Management and she attended pre-med school in Massachusetts. 

Contact Info: Human Services Mental Health Substance Abuse, Pembroke 6, 297 Independence Blvd., Suite 302, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 / (757) 385-0504 / Fax (757) 473-2102

Jim Thornton, Child and Youth, ​Administrator

Mr. Jim Thornton is a Licensed Professional Counselor with 23 years of experience working with emotionally disturbed youth and their families. Mr. Thornton has worked in both the private and public mental health sectors, founding a private practice in Lynchburg, Virginia, before accepting the position of Intensive Community Services Director for the Central Virginia Community Services Board (now Horizon Behavioral Health). While in that position, he supervised multiple programs, including the state's first fully-functioning mobile crisis team for children and adolescents. He helped develop and implement a youth crisis stabilization program that provided seven days per week of intensive service to youth in multiple localities. In August of 2012, he moved to Virginia Beach to become the Clinical Services Coordinator for the Child and Youth MH/SA Division with the City of Virginia Beach, where he was also able to successfully start a Youth Mobile Crisis Intervention Program in addition to the many other services the division provides.​

Contact Info: Human Services Mental Health Substance Abuse, Pembroke 3, 289 Independence Blvd., Suite 245, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 / (757) 385-0850 / Fax (757) 518-9713​

Pete E. Withers, Juvenile Detention Center, Superintendent

Mr. Pete Withers has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History-Political Science from Virginia Wesleyan College.  He began his juvenile justice career with the City of Norfolk in 1975 as a Juvenile Detention Child Counselor at the Norfolk Juvenile Detention Center (NJDC).  Five years later, he was promoted to Child Facility Administrator I.  In 1988, he became the Superintendent of the Norfolk Juvenile Detention Center and served in that capacity until 2003. Mr. Withers was hired as the Superintendent of the newly designed Virginia Beach Juvenile Detention Center in September, 2003. Under his leadership, the building was completed and eighty staff were hired in time for the opening in October, 2004. Mr. Withers has served on numerous local and state-wide boards and commissions and is often consulted as an expert on juvenile justice issues. 

Contact Info: Juvenile Detention Center, Municipal Center Building, 2533 George Mason Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23456 / (757) 385-0690​ / Fax (757) 430-9773 

 HSD Divisions

Administrative Services: Manages, plans, develops, and coordinates the current and future needs for the department. Administers the Billing and Reimbursement office, transportation, budgeting, sectors and is responsible for Virginia Consumer Community Submission reporting.  Facilitates coordination between HSD and contractual partners. Functions include:

  • Facilities Management: Provides oversight for city owned and leased property including group homes, intermediate care facilities (ICFs), residential facilities, day support and all other leased space.  Responsibilities include lease negotiations, security assessments, and coordination of renovation and maintenance activities.
  • Fiscal Services: Provides financial management including budgeting, monitoring fee collection, accounts payable, expenditure control, contract management audit and internal control, and compliance with state and federal agencies. 
  • Information Technology: Provides support, security and training for the Social Services IT systems, and multiple Commonwealth of Virginia applications.
  • Personnel & Payroll: This unit coordinates all department personnel actions with appropriate Human Resources representative, ensuring compliance with established policies and procedures; ensure that all position postings in WAVE are consistent and accurate and to monitor the hiring process for efficiency and compliance.  The unit maintains training and licensure documentation and background check processing and the issuance of city ID badges.  The payroll function for over 1,500 full time and part time employees is also handled by this unit, including tracking all employees on FMLA and leave. 
  • Reimbursement: This unit manages the agency’s fee collection and reimbursements.  It consists of the billing and collection component as well as the client pre-registration and Intake component.  The 14 FTE’s perform credentialing, billing, collection, intake functions, and collect $20 million a year in fee revenue from Medicaid, insurances, and clients. 
  • ​Transportation: Transports clients to and from 15 programs operated by MHSA, DS and AFS Divisions.  The Unit also transports 15-20 severely emotionally disturbed children to a therapeutic after-school program, and adult MHSA clients to residential treatment facilities outside the Tidewater area.  Total fleet includes 27 vehicles that travel in excess of 550,000 miles per year. 

Adult and Employment Services: Adult Services promotes safety for adults 60 years old or older and incapacitated adults age 18 and older from abuse, neglect or exploitation. Employment Services provide an array of supportive services such as employment opportunities, education, training, transportation and child care assistance in an effort to promote self-sufficiency to recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

Adult Correctional: Provides curriculum-based mental health and substance abuse education, relapse prevention, reentry planning and referrals to community resources. These services include jail diversion, forensic services, restoration to competency, advocy discharge planning and referrals for inmates with serious mental illness. ​

Children's Services Act (CSA): Provides assessments and recommends services for at risk youth, mandated youth in foster care and children who cannot be educated in the public school setting.  This office supports the city's Community Policy and Management Team (CPMT) and Family Assessment and Planning Teams (FAPT) to ensure there is a referral process, utilization review of services, provider contracting process and works collaboratively with all agencies to ensure a system for payment authorization, service approval, documentation and provider evaluation process.  

Child Welfare​:

​Continuous Qua​lity Improvement (CQI)​: Monitors and reports on all levels of quality throughout DHS to ensure the highest quality services are provided to internal and external customers. Leverages the use of technology to ensure data integrity, and enforce compliance and adherence to internal and external requirements for Medicaid, Licensure, CARF, HIPAA, Corporate Compliance and the Anasazi Electronic Health Record (EHR).

Key components of the CQI office:​
  • Quality Management / Process Improvement
  • Technology-Electronic Health Records and Data Integrity
  • Documentation and Clinical Rec​ords
  • Licensure, Regulatory and Compliance
  • Human Rights Investigation
  • Incident Tracking
  • Policy and Procedure
  • Accreditation​​​
Developmental Services (DS): Plans, develops, and implements services for Virginia Beach residents with intellectual disabilities and their families through the provision of person centered services designed to provide opportunities to individuals who have intellectual disabilities to become self-directing and contributing members of our community; support families living with family member with intellectual disabilities; provide early intervention when developmental delays are identified in young children; and, promote the value of persons with intellectual disabilities living and working in the community.

Financial Assistance Division (FAD): Administers many different financial assistance programs, most of which are financed by the federal and state government.  The programs are targeted for families and individuals with incomes at or below the poverty level.  Programs include: temporary, emergency or general assistance to needy families or indigents (TANF); grants for the disabled; SNAP (food stamps); VIEW benefits, energy assistance and Medicaid benefits.

Juvenile Detention Center (JDC): Provides temporary and safe custody of juveniles that have criminal charges and require a restricted environment for their own protection or the protection of the public.

Mental Health Substance Abuse (MHSA): Promotes recovery for Virginia Beach Citizens and their families, with or at risk of, mental health, substance use or co-occurring disorders, including prescription drug abuse,  through an array of coordinated services offering prevention, treatment and community collaboration delivered in a climate of dignity and respect.  

 Organizational Values

  • Customer Service – We provide services responsive to customer needs and preferences. Attention to feedback from our customers and incorporation of that feedback into our planning and programs helps to ensure quality customer service​
  • Consumer Choice – We recognize and honor the rights, responsibilities and preferences of the consumer and family member in the development of individualized service plans. We strive to support consumers in identifying services to maximize their potential for independence and improved quality of life.
  • Participatory Decision Making – We encourage participation of all stakeholders including consumers, family members, advocates, staff and other community interests in agency decision-making. We understand the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives in our efforts to meet community needs.
  • Continuous Quality Improvement – We encourage Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) as an overall agency philosophy that emphasizes innovation and critical analysis of current performance. Desired outcomes are compared with current reality, and the resulting gap offers opportunities for CQI initiatives based upon data analysis.
  • Systems Thinking – We promote agency planning and decision-making based upon a system-wide consideration of programs or policies. We also ensure that our services are aligned with the outcomes identified by the Virginia Beach Quality Services System Strategic Plan with particular focus upon Safe Community and Family and Youth Opportunity strategic goals.
  • Public Awareness – We work to increase public awareness and knowledge of the issues, needs and expectations surrounding our consumers in order to enhanc​e community support of disabled persons.
  • Interagency Cooperation – We focus our resources upon those programs and services not provided by other organizations in our community. We work in partnership with other agencies and organizations when appropriate.
  • Integrity – We promote professional and ethical behavior on the part of staff that serves a vulnerable population. We strive to assure that we comply with all appropriate state and federal rules, regulations and codes.
  • Community Based Services – We believe all consumers should be afforded the opportunity to live successfully in the community and participate fully in the benefits ​offered to Virginia Beach citizens.​
Contact Information
The latest version of the HSD Resource Guide is available to view and download here​. Program descriptions and contact information are conveniently laid out in one resource guide. 

Please note that programs, contact information and descriptions may change. The guide will be updated periodically; please check back frequently to download the latest version.