ELIZABETHTOWN Commissioner of Essex County Department of Social Services, John O'Neill, was elected President of the New York Public Welfare Association (NYPWA) at its winter conference in Albany earlier this month. Established in 1869, the New York Public Welfare Association (NYPWA) is the oldest public welfare organization in the country, representing New York States 58 local departments of social services. With a mission of improving the quality and effectiveness of social welfare policy, so that it is accountable to both taxpayers and protective of vulnerable people, NYPWA is an influential leader in social welfare policy development and implementation. In his acceptance speech, Commissioner ONeill emphasized the organizations role in helping to advance social policies that are consistent with the associations mission. Drawing parallels between impacts of increasing climate change on vulnerable populations, widening income gaps, and personal action that each will require in our lifetimes, ONeill stressed the importance of new public policies in determining the direction our society will take over the next few years. He also pledged to work closely with the new state administration to develop meaningful outcome measures in the social services area. Thanking the newly appointed State commissioners of various human services agencies for their active interest in listening to challenges faced by county social services departments, he encouraged them to visit the North Country counties to more fully understand the geographic, economic, and service barriers faced by rural populations. O'Neill has been Essex County Commissioner for the past 15 years, and was recently re-appointed to another five-year term by the Essex County Board of Supervisors. The oath of office was given by Shirley Seney, Supervisor of the Town of North Elba and co-chair of the Human Services Committee. He is a resident of St. Armand.