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.
E. Sudia on Google Scholar
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 (which could also
print out a long banner of Santa's sleigh with reindeer, and produce
a sonic rendition of Jingle Bells). 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 and consulting firms 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, private foundations,
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 Administration, 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
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, Leone Carstens, 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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Frank W. Sudia, All Rights Reserved