About Us
Vanessa Garrett Harley, ESQ, Commissioner

"Vanessa Garrett Harley was appointed Commissioner of the City of Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) in August of 2014. DHS is the largest child welfare agency in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, serving approximately 100 thousand children and families each year. Prior to her appointment, Garrett Harley served as Deputy Commissioner of the Children and Youth Division at the Department of Human Services. In this position she was responsible for child welfare services provided to the children and families of Philadelphia in the hotline, intake, ongoing services and adoption divisions of DHS. These services are strategically designed to ensure the safety, permanency and well being of the Department’s clients. more >>


Marlene Olshan
Acting Deputy Commissioner
Marlene Olshan is Acting Deputy Commissioner of Performance Management and Accountability (PMA). In this position she is responsible for data collection, the monitoring and evaluation of programs, continuous quality improvement processes, and the DHS research agenda for child welfare services provided to the children and families of Philadelphia.

Olshan started her career at DHS as the Intervention Development Director. In that role she was responsible for providing direction and leadership regarding service interventions for the Community Umbrella Agencies (CUA) related to the Child Welfare Demonstration Project (CWDP). Her duties also included supporting the achievement of the identified goals of Improving Outcomes for Children, particularly related to Evidenced Based Practices.

Prior to joining the Department of Human Services, Marlene served as the Chief Operating Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and prior to this position was the Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern PA. 

Timene Farlow
Deputy Commissioner

Timene Farlow, Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Juvenile Justice Services began her career with DHS in 1995 as a social worker. Her first job was in the intake unit, conducting investigations of alleged abuse and neglect and then transitioned to Adoptions as a supervisor. Convinced that her true passion could be lived out working primarily with adolescents, she began  working at the Youth Study Center, the City's only secure juvenile detention facility, in 1999.  Later, she left the Youth Study Center to take on the role of Director of Court and Community Services, a position which served to broaden her exposure to the larger  juvenile justice system and which greatly aided in her acquisition of the skills and understanding needed for her current role as the Division's Deputy Commissioner.  

Ms. Farlow is passionate about her work and is a staunch advocate for youth in the juvenile justice system.   She has a special interest in gender-responsive services for females as well as the issue of disproportionate minority contact and confinement.  She firmly believes that the needs of adjudicated youth can best be met through quality, evidence-based programming which looks not only to address the delinquency needs, but the unresolved dependency needs with which many of these youth also present.      

Ms. Farlow is a native Philadelphian who attended LaSalle University for undergraduate studies and received her MSW from Temple University. She has one adult daughter and a teen-age grand-daughter.
Douglas M Robinson
Deputy Commissioner

Douglas M Robinson is the Deputy Commissioner for the Finance Division at the Department of Human Services. In this position he is responsible for the oversight of all agency financial operations including budget, contracts and financial services.

Prior to his current position, Mr Robinson retired from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Children and Families. During his 20+ year tenure Mr Robinson held various positions of management at the Department and Bureau level, including Director of Grants Management and Federal Reporting, Deputy Commissioner of Operations. For the last 13 months of his tenure he served as the Interim Commissioner for the Bureau for Children and Families.

Doug is a 1990 graduate of Fairmont State College in Fairmont West Virginia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration/Accounting and a Minor in Sociology. He also holds a graduate degree in Management from Marshall University in Huntington West Virginia.

Doug has over 20 years’ experience in the funding of child welfare.

Gary D. Williams
Deputy Commissioner

Gary Williams is the Deputy Commissioner for the Children and Youth Division at the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS). He has been with DHS for 19 years and has provided leadership in various capacities such as: hotline, general intake, sex abuse investigations, family preservation/reunification services and cross-over youth practice implementation. He is a former trainer for the Pennsylvania Child Welfare training program and has trained the Safety Assessment practice model across the state.

Mr. Williams also has served as Project Manager for Philadelphia’s reform initiative in 2007, whereby; DHS adopted the nationally recognized Safety Assessment Practice model and developed a Hotline Guided Decision Making system. He continues to provide leadership to his staff as the department moves forward in Improving Outcomes for Children.

Mr. Williams resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has worked in Child Welfare for more than 20 years. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice at Lincoln University and a Master of Science degree in Social Work at Temple University. He currently is working on a doctoral Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Eastern University.