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Marie Cannon named commissioner of Erie County Social Services

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz has appointed Marie Cannon as commissioner of the Department of Social Services.

Cannon had been acting commissioner since Al Dirschberger resigned from the post under pressure in late December after he was indicted on rape charges.

Cannon has been first deputy commissioner of the department since 2014.

If confirmed by the County Legislature, she will lead the county's largest department, which employs roughly 1,600 employees and spends $600 million a year. In her role as acting commissioner, and now commissioner, she earns a salary of $136,596.

“Marie’s experience and knowledge of the department and the community will be invaluable in creating a Social Services Department that is more responsive, responsible and ready to serve our community," Poloncarz said in a statement.

Cannon said she hopes to strengthen community collaboration and improve customer service in her permanent role.

As first deputy commissioner, Cannon oversaw more than 700 staff in programs such as temporary assistance, Medicaid, daycare subsidies, heating assistance, homeless services, food stamps and others, Poloncarz said. She also lead the county's Summer Youth Employment Program, which has served more than 700 youth.

"It has been my life’s work to help children and families in difficult circumstances," Cannon said.

Prior to joining Erie County as first deputy commissioner, Cannon has held top administrative roles with a variety of child care organizations. From 2012 to 2014, she served as chief executive officer of Child Care Resource Network, a regional not-for-profit organization that helps connect families with child care providers.

Cannon earned her master's degree in social work from the University at Buffalo.

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