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Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan Announce Jodi Harpstead as Department of Human Services Commissioner

8/12/2019 2:46:10 PM

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today announced the appointment of Jodi Harpstead, President and CEO of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, as the incoming Commissioner of the Department of Human Services (DHS). Previously in senior leadership at Medtronic, Jodi Harpstead brings a depth of non-profit and private sector experience in service delivery and business administration. She is the first DHS Commissioner to have a Master of Business Administration since the Department’s restructuring from the Minnesota Department of Public Welfare in 1984.

“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 Governor 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’d also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Interim Commissioner Pam Wheelock for answering my call, diving in headfirst, and leading the agency through this quick transition with grace.”

“In her work with Lutheran Social Service, Jodi has proven that she recognizes the importance of delivering services efficiently, while also acknowledging the deeply human component of this work,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. “I look forward to working with Jodi to ensure that the essential services DHS provides are worthy of our children and families across Minnesota.”  

“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.”

“Lutheran Social Service is one of the largest social service providers in the state, providing services in every one of our 87 counties. As a Moorhead resident, I am proud to note that over half of the people we serve are from Greater Minnesota,” said Paul Dovre, Chair of the Lutheran Social Service Board of Directors. “Jodi has a record of achievement in both the public and private sectors. She has demonstrated the courage to make tough calls, the imagination to try new things, the compassion to serve all people, and a faith that transcends uncertainty and inspires hope.”

“Jodi Harpstead believes in a Minnesota where we can all thrive and along with that belief she brings determination and skilled leadership to get the job done and inspire hope and cooperation in others,” said Pastor Paul Slack, New Creation Church in Minneapolis.

“As an LSS Board member, I can testify to Jodi Harpstead’s stellar leadership,” said Lucinda Jesson, former Department of Human Services Commissioner and Lutheran Social Service board member. “As a longtime DHS Commissioner, I know that leadership will be welcome at the Department and throughout our state.”

This appointment is effective September 3, 2019.

About Jodi Harpstead

Jodi Harpstead has been the President and CEO of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) since September 2011. Previously, she was the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for LSS, and spent 23 years in a variety of positions with Medtronic, Inc. She has volunteered in leadership capacities for a variety of other organizations as well, including Augsburg University, Lutheran Services in America, and ARRM – the statewide association of community-based service providers for people with disabilities.

Commissioner Harpstead received her Master of Business Administration in finance and Bachelor’s in business administration from Michigan State University.

About the Department of Human Services

The Department of Human Services (DHS) provides services to help Minnesotans meet their basic needs, so they can live in dignity and achieve their highest potential. The department serves over a million Minnesotans in 87 counties and 11 tribes, providing essential services from child support to food assistance. While the majority of human services in Minnesota are provided by our partners, DHS, at the direction of the Governor and Legislature, sets policies and directs the payments for many of the services delivered.

About the Hiring Process

The Governor’s Office drew on the extensive outreach work done by the Walz-Flanagan Transition Team to collect stakeholder input from key partners on the opportunities and issues at DHS and the leadership qualities necessary to tackle them. The Transition Team held over 300 meetings with DHS stakeholders and Legislators to identify issues, qualities, and candidates, and out of respect for that process and community engagement, the Governor’s Office returned to that input to make this selection.

This comprehensive groundwork allowed Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan to quickly identify Commissioner Jodi Harpstead as a leader with the necessary experience and qualities to further stabilize the operations of a key agency.

Jodi Harpstead

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