The director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services will step down next month after leading the agency for more than three years.
Justin Brown, who was appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt in 2019, will resign Aug. 19.
During his tenure at DHS, the agency successfully clinched $32.5 million in new funding to clear the state’s developmental disabilities waiting list, which was widely praised as a landmark achievement.
More:Oklahoma DHS expects to clear disability waiting list by 2024
Under Brown’s leadership, DHS has also earned high marks for its implementation of the Pinnacle Plan, according to a news release. The Pinnacle Plan was the result of a unique settlement in which the state agreed to reform its child welfare system in key areas following a 2008 class-action lawsuit on behalf of children who were allegedly neglected and abused in foster care.
DHS also recently reinvested some of its unspent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program funds by awarding $27 million to various nonprofits that offer family stability programs.
In an attempt to determine how DHS could better serve its customers, Brown helped craft a new vision for the agency called True North.
A news release from the agency said Brown’s tenure at DHS was defined by increased transparency and government innovation.
DHS permanently shuttered dozens of its offices across the state during the pandemic, which the agency said was done to modernize its operations.
Brown thanked Stitt for the appointment. The governor will pick Brown’s successor.
“It has been my great honor to have the opportunity to serve alongside some of the most kind-hearted people, who are also warriors for vulnerable children and adults,” Brown said in a news release. “I also can’t say enough to convey my genuine thanks to our state legislative partners for their support these last three years.”
In a series of tweets, Stitt praised Brown’s leadership at DHS and his willingness to step away from the private sector to work in state government. Prior to the appointment, Brown was the CEO of Choice Capital Partners, an ownership group for a chain of senior living facilities.
One of the largest state agencies, DHS is responsible for helping some of the state’s most vulnerable residents. The agency helps people with developmental disabilities, aging populations and overseas adult protective services, child welfare programs, child support services and the licensing and monitoring of child care assistance programs.
Brown will continue to serve in Stitt’s cabinet as secretary of human services.