New Directors of Social Service, Office of Appointed Counsel Announced
Clark County today announced the appointment of Jamie P. Sorenson as the new director of Social Service and Susan Kaye Bush as the new director of the Office of Appointed Counsel. The Clark County Commission voted during its Tuesday, Aug. 15, meeting to ratify both appointments.
“These are important positions that help the County serve our community’s disadvantaged,” said Deputy Manager Abigail Frierson, who oversees both departments. “Jamie and Susan are both well-qualified and positioned to guide these departments into the future and improve service delivery at a time when many people in our community need our assistance.”
Sorenson comes to the County with 28 years of professional social services, public administration and management experience with eight of those years as director of a large state division providing oversight to Minnesota’s state-supervised and county/tribally administered child welfare, foster care and adoption systems.
His career has spanned from front-line child welfare services to senior management over child protective services, adult medical case management services, substance abuse recovery services, child developmental disability services, juvenile justice, children’s behavioral health, foster care/kinship, birth-to-three services and adoption. He also co-managed a statewide child welfare training system and continuous quality improvement to include research, evaluation and data services.
Sorenson currently serves as director of the Minnesota Department of Human Services – Children & Family Services Collaborative Safety, a position he has held since March. He was director of the Minnesota Department of Human Services – Child Safety & Permanency Division from February 2014 through March 2023. Sorenson has a master’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling and a bachelor’s degree in vocational rehabilitation, both from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wis.
The Social Service department has about 270 employees and a general fund annual budget of $80 million, multi-year special revenue funding of $134 million, and multi-year grant funding totaling $197 million. The department provides a variety of services for needy County residents who are not assisted by other state, federal or local programs. Social Service is responsible for ensuring that the County meets its health, welfare and community responsibilities as set forth in state laws and County ordinances and provides an array of services from emergency shelter funding and financial assistance to permanent support housing and long-term care placements.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as the Clark County Social Service director to build upon the many successes achieved by the agency and to navigate the challenges to come,” Sorenson said. “I am excited to get to know and develop relationships with the Clark County executive leadership and Social Service teams, collaborative partners, and key stakeholders as we work together to improve equity, provide high-quality critical services, and create opportunities of hope for those we serve. While I will miss my roots in the Midwest, I look forward to exploring and establishing Clark County as my new community and playing a key leadership role in implementing our shared vision toward meeting increasing service demands in the coming years.”
At the Office of Appointed Counsel, Bush brings more than 20 years of experience as an attorney, having worked for the last six as Clark County’s Chief Deputy Special Public Defender handing criminal cases, including death penalty trials. Before that, she worked in private practice and spent the last 10 years managing a law firm. During that time, Bush worked as appointed indigent defense counsel for Clark County criminal and dependency cases, state of Nevada post-conviction matters and city of Las Vegas misdemeanor cases. She also served as an arbitrator for the Court Annexed Arbitration Program for the Eighth Judicial District Court and has extensive knowledge in contract billing, conflict counsel appointments, expert retention and business management.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to work in a field that has been a personal passion of mine for almost two decades,” Bush said. “I am enthusiastic about making a meaningful contribution to Clark County's objective of providing exceptional legal services to court-appointed individuals. I am excited to collaborate with all the community partners who share this mission and look forward to making a meaningful impact."
The Office of Appointed Counsel’s objective is to assure quality legal representation of indigent persons while using public resources wisely. The OAC administers assistance so that those accused of crime will not be deprived of representation necessary to an adequate defense because they are financially unable to pay. The OAC maintains a panel of attorneys who are available and well-qualified to provide high-quality, dedicated, effective, efficient legal representation to those individuals financially unable to employ counsel in adult criminal cases, juvenile criminal cases and parental termination cases where the Public Defender and Special Public Defender are unable to do so. It is the OAC’s responsibility to ensure that all who qualify for appointments outside of the Public Defender and Special Public Defender receive timely and competent legal representation appointments and these are allocated in a manner that is fair, neutral and nondiscriminatory. The office also coordinates Clark County's Police Fatality Fact-Finding Review process by arranging for hearing officers and ombudsmen, coordinating pre-review meetings with participants and overseeing the hearings. Additionally, the office coordinates and facilitates the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee and supervises employees working on criminal justice initiatives.
Bush has a juris doctorate from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies from UNLV.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect, accountability, leadership and excellence. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 11th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to 2.3 million citizens and 41 million visitors a year (2022). Included are the nation’s 8th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to 1 million residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.