Long-time leader of Human Services announces retirement
March 22, 2022
Minnesota Department of Human Services Deputy Commissioner Chuck Johnson will retire on June 30, capping 38 years of public service to the State of Minnesota, including 17 years in leadership positions at the agency.
“Everyone who knows him knows that Chuck is the institutional memory of DHS,” said Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “Not only has he spent 38 years with the agency, he has held many different positions for 12 different commissioners. He is also highly respected for his integrity, compassion, and steadiness.”
Johnson’s experience in government spans the organizational chart, from student intern at the State Planning Agency in 1984 to DHS deputy commissioner in 2013, with stints along the way as a program director, assistant commissioner, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and acting commissioner.
He joined DHS in 1989 to work on the development of welfare reform, which led to field trials of the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) in 1994. The original MFIP program, which Johnson eventually led, broke new ground in producing an increase in work and family income, with the strongest outcomes for longer-term recipients and BIPOC families.
Johnson was appointed assistant commissioner of Children and Family Services in 2005, where he first got involved in information technology work with the development of MEC2 system for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). He was part of a team started DHS down a path toward an integrated approach to enterprise architecture.
Over the years, Johnson played a key role in the top human services issues of the day, including the ramp-up of the Affordable Care Act, building of the Forensics Mental Health facilities in St. Peter, and support for White Earth Nation to take over the delivery of human services. He is also known for his management skills during difficult times, helping the agency through years of significant budget reductions while minimizing impact on Minnesotans in need, for example.
“It has been a great honor to serve the people of Minnesota for 38 years,” said Johnson. “I will miss working daily with my dedicated colleagues at the Department of Human Services to support people in meeting their basic needs and living their best lives.”
Harpstead said she is considering options for filling this role.