Human Services director leads with 30 years of experience

By Clara Neupert

Diane Cable, director of the Eau Claire County Human Services Department, works at her desk in her second-story office that overlooks Lake Street in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Cable is the woman behind the services that impact over 10 percent of the county’s population. © 2017 Clara Neupert

In the wake of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting that was recorded as the largest mass shooting in modern American history, Diane Cable said she noticed a change in herself and her coworkers during their weekly meeting. Determined to start the healing process, Cable encouraged people to pair up, leave the office and have a heart-to-heart conversation. 

When you work in the Department of Human Services, Cable said, you have to know how to take care of yourself.

As Eau Claire County Human Services Director, Cable is a woman who leads with 30 years of experience in the human service field behind her. However, her leadership does not come without its challenges.

“I have a great job,” Cable said. “I get to help people succeed.”

More than 10 percent of Eau Claire County’s population has been directly impacted by the Department of Human Services that Cable heads, according to the department’s website.

But Cable  didn’t always plan on being a leader.

In college, Cable studied sociology and dance. Although she said she had no clear direction of a career path, she knew she wanted to work with people.

After graduating, Cable worked as a social worker for 10 years. She returned to school at the University Minnesota-Twin Cities, earned her master’s degree in social work and became an outpatient therapist.

Cable said her husband encouraged her to apply for an opening in the Wood County Health Department.

When she landed the job, Cable thought “Really? Wow.”

But she overcame her initial self-doubt when she found that her background in “clinical skills” could help her with the communication demands of the job. Soon, she was promoted to director of

the department.

In February 2016, Cable took over as the director of the Department of Human Services in Eau Claire County.

Cable said her leadership is rooted in trust and understanding.

“I spent the first year just listening and learning,” Cable said.

She had plenty of listening and learning to do. Cable’s duties include overseeing departments and programs that aid with issues like abused and neglected children, adults and children with mental illness and youth offenders. She also is in control of the Department of Human Service’s fiscal operations.

“My primary job is helping to build relationships with our staff, partners and people we serve,” Cable said.

Such a job comes with challenges, Cable said.

“For me,” Cable said, “one of the challenges has been help to move the organization … that has been set in how it has done things for a certain way for many years … to look at things in a new way.”

Because she has increased the number of employees in the Department of Human Services, Cable has been pushing for improvements in areas like interdepartmental communication and efficient utilization of space. Cable said she is also working towards an increase in usage and understanding of technology.

Another challenge that Cable has encountered is finding “enough funding and resources” to provide the community with adequate aid.

Cable said she understands the role that the Department of Human Services plays for Eau Claire community members.

“They come to Human Services because there’s need,” Cable said.

In her personal life, Cable’s roles extend beyond her position as director. Cable lives in Eau Claire with her husband and has two daughters.

Emily Hastings, Cable’s youngest daughter, graduated from UW-Eau Claire. She too is in the helping profession field – she works as a speech therapist in Minneapolis.

“As a speech therapist in the public schools, I need to be mindful of how a child’s home life impacts their communication development and learning,” Hastings said. “My mom’s profession helped to instill a sense of awareness that a child’s home life may not always be what is expected.”

Hastings said she has always seen her mother as someone who has a “caring personality.” She remembers when she watched the Twin Cities Marathon with her mother. Standing about a quarter mile from the finish line, Cable cheered on strangers who ran past her, shouting “This is your moment!”

Hastings said she continues to be inspired by her mother.

“Her work reminds me to strive to be the best that I can in my own profession,” Hastings said.

Cable herself is still working to fulfill her goals, though she said she knows they are hard to achieve.

“If we really wanted to, we could solve issues of child abuse; of poverty.” Cable said. “That is my passion – to solve all the issues of the world.”

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