Lucy Hadi, 70, was DCF secretary, adviser to Bush and Jennings
Lucy Hadi, who held a variety of positions in state government over four decades, died Monday at the Westminster Oaks retirement facility in Tallahassee. She was 70 years old and had been in declining health following a stroke after heart surgery several years ago, her stepdaughter Diana Hadi Padgett said.
A top adviser to former Gov. Jeb Bush, Hadi's career in state government ended in 2006 as secretary of the Department of Children and Families. Her DCF tenure was punctuated by a prolonged and high-profile legal fight and imposition of heavy fines by a Pinellas County judge, Crockett Farnell, for the agency's failure to remove mentally ill inmates from the Pinellas County jail.
In a 2005 Florida Trend profile, reporter Neil Skene described Hadi as having "a warm heart and a steely resolve." She was sent to DCF to right the ship after a series of controversies during the tenure of her two predecessors, Kathleen Kearney and Jerry Regier.
"People come to us in desperation," Hadi told Florida Trend. "If every day if we can become a little bit better, we reduce that desperation; we help people get on with their lives, so they can become productive citizens of the state."
Hadi had an extensive background in the Legislature. She served as a top adviser to former Senate President Toni Jennings and was chief of staff to Jennings when she was Bush's lieutenant governor. She got her start in state government as as a research analyst on health and human services in the House in 1970 on a committee chaired by former Rep. Richard Hodes, a Tampa Democrat.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Hadi Padgett said plans are underway for a funeral service to be held Saturday, Feb. 27, at St. John's Episcopal Church in Tallahassee.