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Emily Piper


Emily Piper is commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. DHS is the state’s largest agency, serving well over 1 million people with an annual budget of $16.2 billion and more than 6,000 employees throughout the state. The department administers a broad range of services, including health care, economic assistance, mental health care, substance use disorder treatment, child welfare services, and services for the elderly and people with disabilities. 

Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Emily Piper commissioner in 2015. During her tenure, Piper has worked to strengthen services for the 10,000 vulnerable Minnesotans who receive care in state-operated facilities every year, has renewed focus on reducing disparities in outcomes for people who use DHS services, and has continued to work to improve delivery of services to the people we serve. Piper also co-chaired the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health, which recommended ways to create a continuum of mental health services to ensure people have access to the appropriate services when they need them, building on reforms and investments that have been advanced through Gov. Dayton’s leadership in Minnesota.

Prior to joining DHS, Piper served as general counsel and deputy chief of staff in the Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith. Piper also served as chair of the State Board of Investment Proxy Committee and the State Board of Investment Administrative Committee. The State Board of Investment manages approximately $76 billion of state pensions and other assets.

Prior to joining the Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor, Piper served as deputy commissioner and chief of staff for the Minnesota Department of Commerce. While at the Commerce Department, Piper worked with agency leadership in regulating, among others, Minnesota’s insurance, real estate, banking and energy industries. She also served as general counsel for the agency.

Piper began her career as an attorney with McGrann Shea Carnival Straughn & Lamb Chartered in Minneapolis, working on civil litigation including health care and insurance law. Piper earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, and her juris doctor degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Piper lives in Golden Valley with her husband and four children. 

A PDF version of Commissioner Piper's biography is online.

Photograph of  Emily  Piper
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