By Richie Ramos

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sharon Hilliard, the director of California’s Employment Development Department, announced on Friday that she will retire at the end of the year, the agency said in a news release.

The EDD said Hilliard’s announcement comes after she spent nearly four decades serving Californians.

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“It has been my privilege to be part of the Employment Development Department (EDD) team since the day I walked into the EDD building over 37 years ago,” said Hilliard. “At that time, I was 19 years old and looking back I could not have imagined how fortunate it would be to work with so many caring, strong, and professional people determined to provide the best services possible to the citizens of California. I retire knowing that EDD is on a great path to success.”

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Hilliard previously served as chief deputy director at the EDD between 2013-2019 and multiple other positions since her career began.

“I am grateful for Sharon’s service and willingness to step into the role of director just before the pandemic. She has helped pave the path for EDD to reset its culture and modernize the system at this critical time,” said California Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary Julie A. Su. “This has been a challenging time for the people of California and Sharon and her team have put in the work during this time of unprecedented demand.”

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In 2020, there’s been controversy over a massive backlog in unemployment claims in California since the pandemic began. Following a two-week reset, the EDD said in early October that it would be January 2021 until a backlog initially announced at over 1.6 million unemployment claims would be cleared.