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UD graduates Claire DeMatteis (left) and Mark Holodick serve in
high-ranking positions in the Delaware state government. DeMatteis is
the Secretary of the Department of Human Resources. Holodick is the
Secretary of the Department of Education.
As a state-assisted land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant
institution, the University of Delaware is committed to the
intellectual, cultural and ethical development of its undergraduate and
graduate students as citizens, scholars and professionals. UD graduates
often become leaders within the state, known for their creativity,
integrity and their dedication to service.
In 2022, two UD alumni, both known for their commitment to public
service, joined several other Blue Hens on Delaware Governor John
Carney’s Cabinet. Claire DeMatteis, Class of 1987, an alumnus of the College of Arts and Sciences
and a member of the UD Board of Trustees, was appointed as Secretary of
the Delaware Department of Human Resources, and Mark Holodick, who got
his doctorate in 2008 in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), was appointed as Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) in January 2022.
“Both Claire and Mark will bring years of experience and commitment
to public service that will benefit all Delawareans,” said Carney in a press release. “I look forward to continuing to work with these two in their new positions.”
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Both DeMatteis and Holodick share a commitment to public service
exemplified by their impactful careers in government and education.
Prior to her January appointment, DeMatteis served as special assistant
to Carney, overseeing the management of federal stimulus funding
received by the State of Delaware and assisting with crisis management
projects across state government.
DeMatteis also previously served as commissioner of the Delaware
Department of Correction (DDOC), as special assistant to Governor Carney
overseeing reforms to Delaware’s corrections system and in a senior
role at the Delaware Department of Labor.
Among other accomplishments, DeMatteis worked with the DDOC team to
implement more than 40 reforms within a 12-month period to address
safety within Delaware’s correctional facilities. These reforms included
enhanced safety and security at correctional facilities, improved
training for officers, expanded opportunities for inmates to receive
education, job-training skills and substance use disorder treatment,
contracting with a new medical and behavioral health provider, enhanced
training and equipment for probation officers and stronger diversity,
equity and inclusion initiatives.
"It’s no surprise that Claire has worked for a U.S. Representative, a
U.S. Senator and a Delaware governor,” said Joseph A. Pika, James R.
Soles professor emeritus in the Institute for Public Administration in the Joseph R. Biden, Jr., School of Public Policy and Administration.
“She combines bubbly enthusiasm and icy competence, making her
extraordinarily effective in working with people as well as completing
difficult tasks. She still seeks out new challenges just as she did as
an undergraduate when she entered a national competition among college
students to interview the U.S. President — out of thousands of
applicants she finished in the top 10. She was a great student and is
now a great ambassador for UD."
Prior to his January appointment, Holodick served as superintendent
of Brandywine School District, overseeing 16 schools with more than
10,000 students, and then as a senior leadership specialist within
CEHD’s Delaware Academy of School Leadership (DASL).
His work at DASL focused on supporting Delaware students by
supporting their educational leaders. During his tenure, he coached
superintendents, principals and assistant principals, served as the
faculty lead in DASL’s Principal Preparation Program, supported district
teams as they developed principal pipeline programs and assisted two
school boards with superintendent searches.
Holodick was also instrumental in the development and implementation of the Governor’s Institute for School Leadership at UD,
a collaborative effort between UD and the DDOE, the Governor’s Office
and Delaware districts to provide professional learning and mentorship
to experienced assistant principals and superintendents.
For DeMatteis and Holodick, building strong and trusted relationships
with their colleagues lies at the heart of their public service
careers. DeMatteis said she defines herself as a government leader
through the relationships that she builds over time.
“From my experience, being an effective government leader requires
building and sustaining strong relationships,” DeMatteis said. “I have
served in state and federal government positions dating back to my
sophomore year at UD working for the Senate majority leader. Those
relationships and the prioritizing of relationships before tasks have
enabled me to deliver results in some challenging assignments both in
the public and private sectors.”
She also emphasized that the relationships she built at the DDOC were
integral to her success in implementing the many safety and educational
reforms in Delaware’s correctional facilities.
“Walking into a very male-dominated culture, focusing on building
relationships, I gained the trust of correctional leaders and officers,
and we implemented needed reforms that have reshaped Delaware’s
correctional system,” DeMatteis said.
Holodick similarly identified the ability to build trust, communicate
empathy and foster relationships as some of his core values.
“First and foremost, one must focus on building relationships and
trust with colleagues,” Holodick said. “When one transitions into a new
leadership position, it’s critical to spend a great deal of time
observing the operations within the organization and requesting feedback
from all stakeholders about what’s working and what needs attention.
It’s important to be adaptable, willing to listen to various
perspectives and make needed changes based on what you observe and hear.
You also must have empathy and treat all colleagues with respect and
dignity. This allows us to build a strong team to focus on our critical
work: strengthening opportunities and outcomes for all students and
Jackie Wilson, director of DASL and assistant professor in CEHD’s School of Education (SOE), recognizes these traits in Holodick, predicting that they will aid in his work as Secretary of Education.
“Mark’s ability to bring people together to collaborate on
challenging problems will be very important as he tackles the challenges
of improving Delaware’s lowest performing schools,” Wilson said.
“Mark’s experiences as a high school principal and superintendent give
him credibility when working with various stakeholders who want someone
who has experience leading schools and systems of schools, which is
DeMatteis and Holodick also share fond memories from their time as
students at UD, both noting that their UD degrees supported their
careers in public service. DeMatteis graduated with undergraduate
degrees in communications, political science and journalism. She
credited her professors with helping her develop critical skills in
writing, self-discipline and creativity.
“My professors were first rate, and many are still friends today,”
DeMatteis said. “I value being a good writer, and that is thanks to the
outstanding professors I had at UD. The discipline, creativity,
curiosity, innovation and relationships I learned and built at UD have
served me well throughout my career.”
As a member of the UD Board of Trustees and an adjunct instructor in
the Department of Women and Gender Studies, DeMatteis continues to serve
UD, mentor UD students and actively participate in the UD Alumni
Holodick, who graduated from the School of Education’s doctoral
program in Educational Leadership, similarly emphasizes outstanding UD
faculty. His capstone doctoral project on special education also
directly supported his work as a high school principal.
“My adviser, Bob Hampel, professor in the SOE, was instrumental in
helping me select a topic that was directly related to my work as a
principal at Concord High School,” Holodick said.
“My doctoral work on inclusive classroom programs significantly
shifted the way we approached everything from scheduling to analyzing
data and looking through a lens of equity. I’m proud to say that our
approach to building our master schedule shifted dramatically, and the
needs of all students, not just some, were taken into consideration when
DeMatteis and Holodick join several other UD alumni in the Governor’s
Cabinet, including Michael Berry (Arts and Sciences, 1989), Major
General in the Delaware National Guard; Jeffrey W. Bullock (Arts and
Sciences, 1982), Secretary of the Department of State; Jason Clarke
(Arts and Sciences, 2000), Chief Information Officer in the Department
of Technology and Information; Shawn Garvin (Arts and Sciences, 1989),
Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental
Control; Molly Magarik (Arts and Sciences, 2002), Secretary of the
Delaware Department of Health and Social Services; and Nicole Majeski
(Arts and Sciences, 2001), Secretary of the Department of
Article by Jessica Henderson, photos by Maria Errico, Evan Krape and courtesy of Claire DeMatteis
Originally published August 10, 2022