Oakland County Health and Human Services Director George Miller will retire from the county after 40 years of service in order to become the executive director of The Rainbow Connection, an organization founded by County Executive L. Brooks Patterson to grant wishes to seriously ill children.
“George is known at the county for his exceptional leadership and ability to bring community partners together, which is why he is a natural to be the next executive director of The Rainbow Connection,” Patterson said. “When leading a charitable organization, it is vital to make strong connections in the community.”
Miller is excited to be joining the team at The Rainbow Connection. He is looking forward to leveraging his community connections to increase the ability of The Rainbow Connection to assist families with ill children.
“What I loved most about my job at Oakland County is that I could impact so many lives in a positive way,” Miller said. “Each day brought a new challenge and a new opportunity to make a difference. I’m grateful to Brooks that I will have an opportunity to continue to do so at The Rainbow Connection. The exceptional staff at The Rainbow Connection does an outstanding job of improving the lives of seriously ill children while helping to reduce the stress on their parents.”
As director of the largest department under the county executive, Miller was responsible for Oakland County Children’s Village, Health Division, and Homeland Security Division. Some of his accomplishments include implementing several coalitions on behalf of the county executive to address public health and human services issues. These include:
- The Homeless Healthcare Collaboration – Oakland County Health Division convened a group of 70 community partners who serve homeless and vulnerable populations to discuss their experiences, identify concerns, share ideas, and develop a plan to address the needs of these clients.
- Oakland County Prescription Drug Abuse Partnership – Oakland County has developed a comprehensive partnership to create a coordinated, strategic action plan for reducing prescription drug abuse and overdoses in the county.
- Oakland County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) – Oakland County launched the CHIP in 2016 from a comprehensive community health assessment conducted by Energizing Connections for Healthier Oakland (ECHO), a county-wide health improvement initiative that is focused on achieving a community where every person that lives, works, attends school, worships, or plays in Oakland County is a healthy person.
- Oakland County Homeland Security Division was among the first jurisdictions to embrace the Incident Management Team concept and was the first to respond as a team to the Dundee tornado in 2010.
- Miller established best practices at the Oakland County Children’s Village including the implementation of trauma-informed care and programmatic changes at Mandy’s Place, a shelter for neglected and abused youth.
Another notable achievement for Miller was overseeing Oakland County’s success in significantly reducing infant mortality rates in the African-American community. From 2000-2002, it was discovered that the African-American infant death rate in Oakland County was 21 per 1,000 live births – more than four times the Caucasian infant death rate for the same period. Patterson directed Miller to commit significant Health Division resources, time and staff to reducing infant mortality. Health Division worked with its partners to launch a variety of programs that subsequently reduced the African-American infant death rate to 10.6 per 1,000 live births by 2009-2012. The county continues to work on reducing that rate.
Miller was also instrumental in creating, from Patterson’s vision, the Count Your Steps Program (CYS). CYS was a walking pedometer program for third and fourth graders to get them moving instead of being couch potatoes. Patterson was alarmed at a statistic that indicated children today would not live as long as their parents because of their sedentary lifestyles. The program ran for a decade before being replaced by the National Football League’s “Fuel Up to Play 60.”
Miller started at Oakland County as a youth specialist for Oakland County Children’s Village in 1977. He worked as a counselor/community organizer at Oakland County Youth Assistance from 1981-1986, when he became a substance abuse contract analyst at Oakland County Health Division. In 1990, Miller was promoted to the supervisor of the Health Division’s Planning and Evaluations Unit. From 1993-2001, he served as a manager of Oakland County Community Corrections Division followed by manager/health officer of the Oakland County Health Division from 2001-2008. That year, Patterson appointed him to his current county role as director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
A Royal Oak resident, Miller has a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from the University of Detroit Mercy and a master of arts in guidance and counseling from Oakland University. He and his wife Cindy have four daughters and nine grandchildren.
About The Rainbow Connection
The Rainbow Connection is a Rochester, Michigan-based 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to making dreams come true for Michigan children who are literally fighting for their lives. Since 1985, thousands of Michigan children with life-threatening illnesses have experienced their most special dream come true. Today, the Rainbow Connection’s annual budget exceeds $2 million. For more information, go to www.RainbowConnection.org.