Minnesota's embattled Department of Human Service has a new leader, with Gov. Tim Walz appointing Jodi Harpstead as DHS Commissioner on Monday.
Former commissioner Tony Lourey resigned last month after a turbulent period for the department, which has also seen inspector general Carolyn Ham placed on leave amid an investigation, and other department heads either leave or threaten to resign.
Harpstead, who will take over the mantle from interim DHS Commissioner Pam Wheelock, has been the president and CEO of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota since 2011.
She also has previously worked in a senior leadership position at medical device giant Medtronic, and according to the governor's office "brings a depth of non-profit and private sector experience in service delivery and business administration."
"It is my honor to appoint a Commissioner of Human Services with broad private and non-profit experience, and a proven record of strong, compassionate leadership,” said Walz. "As CEO of Lutheran Social Service, Jodi Harpstead has led an organization that touches lives in every corner of our state, and I look forward to her bringing that vision and expertise to DHS."
"I am honored to be given the opportunity to serve as the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services. I know the people of the DHS to be the same dedicated, caring, and competent people I have worked with at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota," said Commissioner Harpstead.
"I am happy to report that LSS is stable and healthy, leaving me free to bring my 39 years of managing people in large organizations to the Department.
"I am eager to see how my private sector skills can be useful in working with the dedicated people of the Department of Human Services to support people living full lives in communities across Minnesota."