Cecelia E. Sudia, HHS Children, Youth & Families (1923 - 2006)

Like my Father, my professionally well-known late Mother also needs her own webpage, so this is a stub I'll be expanding over time. If anyone who knew her wants to contribute an essay, photos, or other materials, or even take over the project, let me know.

Cecelia E. Sudia on Google Scholar

Cecelia E. Sudia on Semantic Scholar

Cecelia E. Sudia Obituary (ex-Washington Post)

Cecelia E. Sudia was born on a farm outside Toronto, OH on April 28, 1923. After attending Toronto High School, she enrolled at Muskingum College, a nearby Presbyterian-affiliated school. During WW-2 she enlisted in the Navy Waves and served as a typist, first at Wright-Patterson ABF in Dayton, OH and later on Signal Hill near Ward Circle in Washington, DC. (Both locations were involved in top secret code breaking, but she denied knowing anything confidential.) After the war she went back to school at Kent State University, on the "GI Bill of Rights" scholarship, where she completed a Bachelors in Psychology and met my father Ted Sudia.

After taking a break to create a family, she completed her Masters in Psych at the University of Minnesota, analyzing her data on a punch card driven computer programmed with wires. As soon as we could be left at home after school, she went back to work as a part time instructor (at U Minn), and then -- unusual for a woman of her generation -- worked professionally till she was in her 70s.

Soon after arriving in Washington, DC in 1967 (when Ted took the job with AIBS), she got a mid level civil service job at what was then the Department of Health Education and Welfare (DHEW), where for the next 30 years or so (first at the HEW Children's Bureau, later the HHS Agency on Children Youth & Families or ACYF), she served as a mid level program analyst, each year overseeing millions of dollars in federal funding for child welfare research programs. Whenever they announced next year's round of grant funding, based on the appropriation Congress had given them, they would get stacks of proposals from universities around the country, and she would round up colleagues (inside and outside) to serve as reviewers, to evaluate and score them. The rest of the year, she and her peers read and wrote papers, attended conferences, wrote reports to Congress, did liaison with universities and state welfare agencies, etc.

She received a number of awards for her work in child welfare, including one (the Mary Ellen Award) created for her as the first recipient. Her most significant impact on federal policy was her insistence that human service programs needed independent outside evaluation, of whether they were worthy of continued funding, and then overseeing the program eval process. According to one tribute letter: This is now the policy of the United States.

An outspoken "deep state" critic of the Reagan Admin, she accused them of promoting a "failed child welfare policy," figuring she could not be fired, due to being a woman with Veterans Preference. She could have been promoted higher, but declined. Seeing that her bosses came and went every 3 years or so, she believed that by staying at GS-13, she could remain there forever. At her retirement event, around 50 people showed up, including 20 who flew in from out of town, to thank her for decades of federal funding of their research.

A lifelong A student, she knew her Bible. I once lamented to her that she was helping millions of poor children, while I was not. She replied, "You're not called to it."

Some long term colleagues included: Elizabeth Herzog, Janet Hutchinson, Esther Wattenberg, Jeanne Giovannoni, and Frank ____ .

[If you knew Cece and this webpage brings back memories, consider opening a text or document file on your computer and typing some notes into it. Or if you already wrote a relevant essay, we can link to it or include it as a chapter. All inputs will be credited, unless you prefer anonymity.]

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