Assistant Commissioner for External Relations
Roberta Downing serves as Assistant Commissioner for External Relations at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. She oversees the department’s Legislative Affairs, Office of Indian Policy, Federal Relations, County Relations, and Community and Partner Relations. Downing previously served as the department’s Director of Federal Relations.
Prior to joining DHS, Downing was a Senior Policy Adviser for the District of Columbia Department of Human Services as well as the Deputy Director of the Office of Federal and Regional Affairs for the city of Washington, DC.
Downing has worked in the U.S. Senate as a health care policy aide for Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and as a health policy fellow for Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA). She was also a senior member of the federal government affairs teams at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and at the American Psychological Association.
Downing earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as part of the W.K. Kellogg Community Health Scholars Program. Downing’s academic work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters. Her research was focused on health disparities and community-based participatory research.