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, she has strengthened services for the 12,000 vulnerable Minnesotans who receive care in state-operated facilities, has renewed focus on reducing disparities in outcomes for people who use DHS services, and has worked to improve delivery of services to the people we serve. This includes an extensive redesign of the substance use disorder treatment system to make it more responsive and effective. She also chaired the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health, which recommended ways to create a continuum of care to ensure people have access to the services they need, when they need them. In the past year, Piper has worked extensively at the federal level to ensure Minnesota can continue to provide critical services, particularly Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
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. Before 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. Commissioner Piper's official portrait is available to download (JPG).