Governor Abbott Announces New Senior Leadership Of DFPS

November 28, 2022 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott today announced new leadership appointments at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) that strengthen the agency’s mission of serving vulnerable adults and children across Texas by providing high-quality programs and services. Effective immediately, DFPS Associate Commissioner for Adult Protective Services Kezeli "Kez" Wold will take over as interim DFPS Commissioner, with Stephanie Muth assuming the role of Commissioner effective January 2, 2023. Additionally, Anne Heiligenstein will return to DFPS in a Senior Adviser role to lead a number of key projects at the agency.

“Children and families across Texas will benefit greatly from the expertise and deep understanding of child welfare that this new leadership team brings to DFPS,” said Governor Abbott. “As a recognized administrator and organizational leader, Stephanie will contribute her deep understanding of agency operations and increased accountability to strengthen the efforts of this critical agency. I am grateful for Kez’s strong leadership and steady hand during this transition and to Casey Family Programs for making Anne available to return to DFPS to direct many important projects. I look forward to working with these knowledgeable, dedicated public servants to provide Texas children with the best care and services possible.” 

Beginning January 2, Stephanie will lead DFPS and help guide the agency as it continues rolling out Community-Based Care (CBC) services statewide, as well as furthering the agency’s compliance with the remedial orders in the foster care litigation. CBC is designed to provide improved foster care services for children by giving local communities the flexibility to find innovative ways to meet the unique and individual needs of children and their families in communities across Texas.

Stephanie Muth specializes in health and human services policy, design, and operations. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in June 2020, she worked in Texas state government for 20 years, including working in the Texas legislature and executive branch and holding senior executive level positions at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) for more than 15 years. During her career, Stephanie has modernized the Texas eligibility system and successfully overseen a large-scale reorganization of health and human service programs. As State Medicaid Director, she managed the operational and policy aspects of a health care delivery system that provides services to more than 4 million Texans. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Florida and a Master's of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Kez Wold currently serves as DFPS’ Associate Commissioner for Adult Protective Services, a nationally recognized program known for its innovation and client services. He began his career as a child and adult protective services caseworker, front-line supervisor, subject matter expert in risk and self-neglect, program administrator, and regional director. Prior to his role as Associate Commissioner for Adult Protective Services, Kez was the Director of Field for seven years. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas Lutheran College and a Master's in Public Administration from Texas State University. 

Anne Heiligenstein is the current Texas Strategic Consultant for Casey Family Programs. She joined Casey after retiring from state service as the Commissioner of DFPS. Prior to leading DFPS, she was the Deputy Executive Commissioner for HHSC, where she managed the Medicaid/CHIP, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, and Refugee Assistance eligibility programs. While working for Casey, she has been assisting with efforts to strengthen Texas’ child welfare system, including safely reducing the number of children in foster care and improving the lives of those in care. Anne has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master's of Science from Trinity University, and is a former Fellow of the Eli Broad Foundation Academy, which trains and develops education leaders throughout the country.