Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Gov. Stitt replaces Director of OKDHS

Photo credit: @NonDocMedia


Oklahoma City (June 4, 2019)—Governor Kevin Stitt today announced the appointment of Justin Brown as Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS).

“Justin is a fellow Oklahoman who has a strong record of helping healthcare and human-service oriented businesses become great success stories in their delivery of compassionate care,” said Gov. Stitt. “His time working at the Villagio Senior Living is just one example of this, where they have 7 communities in 3 states serving individuals with memory loss. Justin is a strong organizational leader and a proven problem solver. He has a passion and desire to help the state deliver better services to those who depend on DHS. Justin shares my administration’s vision to help strengthen Oklahoma’s families, provide customer-centered services, and improve the quality of life for all engaging with DHS. I look forward to working with him as we move our state forward.”

Justin B. Brown has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Choice Capital Partners since 2008. Brown joined Choice Capital Partners, the ownership entity for Villagio Senior Living, following an eight year career in healthcare finance. During his banking career, Brown was involved in financing a range of healthcare entities across all industry segments, including seniors housing. For Choice Capital Partners, Brown directly manages all capital needs, acquisition and development strategies, investor relations, and directs the company’s core business strategy. Additionally, Brown plays a role in programming and resident satisfaction, community design and development, and improved quality of life. Brown also serves on the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer’s Association, the Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City. He and his wife, Kelly, have been married for 18 years and have two children, Hannah and Ford.

“I look forward to working with the amazing staff at the Department of Human Services and the communities they serve,” said Brown. “The work the staff does every day is vital to vulnerable Oklahomans and our state as a whole. It is a challenge, but I believe the staff and I are up to the challenge.”

Brown has stepped down from his role at Choice Capital Partners and will continue to serve in an advisory role on the Board of Directors. The assisted living and Alzheimer’s centers managed by Brown during his time as CEO neither currently receive nor have they ever received money from the state of Oklahoma or the federal government.

The Department of Human services is the largest state agency in Oklahoma. DHS provides a wide range of assistance programs to help Oklahomans in need including: food benefits (SNAP); temporary cash assistance (TANF); services for persons with developmental disabilities and persons who are aging; adult protective services; child welfare programs; child support services; and child care assistance, licensing and monitoring. DHS also handles applications and eligibility for Sooner Care, the state’s Medicaid program offering health care to families with low incomes.

Oklahoma City—Ed Lake, current director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, announces his departure from the agency June 14 following Governor Kevin Stitt's appointment of a new DHS Director.

"Serving at the will of the Governor, I have always understood the nature of this appointment.  I support a Governor's authority to select his or her own team and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have served in this vital role." said Lake.  "While I am disappointed about not being able to finish some important work, I am extremely proud of many accomplishments and the solid framework created at DHS which leaves the agency in excellent condition for the next administration. I will do all that I can to help ensure a smooth transition for the new director."

During Lake's leadership, he employed proven business process improvement methods to achieve more than $13 million in efficiencies and cost savings at the agency.  Despite the worst state budget crisis the agency has ever faced, Lake redirected more than $170 million internally to support Child Welfare Services and Pinnacle Plan goals, while avoiding service cuts to other core programs across the agency.

In the most recent progress report from monitors overseeing the agency's foster care reforms and the Pinnacle Plan, DHS achieved "good faith" ratings in 29 of 31 performance areas.  This was the most positive report to date since the agency began reform efforts in 2012.

Under Lake's leadership, DHS changed its operations dramatically by closing the two state-operated institutions for people with intellectual disabilities as well as the two large state-run emergency children's shelters, focusing resources on community-based services and home-like settings.

Lake highly valued community partnerships and was known for continually saying, "DHS cannot do this work alone."  He actively sought support from multiple community foundations to fund innovative service programs the agency could not otherwise afford to create.  Lake increased alliances with churches and faith organizations in support of foster care and adoption goals, privatized portions of foster care recruitment, and created a Tribal Affairs liaison position.  Internally, he implemented the first-ever, agency-wide supervisory and management training programs.

Lake was notably the last DHS director hired by the Commission for Human Services and the first director to be appointed by a governor.   The Commission hired Lake on November 1, 2012, following two nationwide searches and was the first DHS director to hold a Master's Degree in Social Work. Within days, Oklahomans voted to pass a state question which changed the state constitution and put the agency and the appointment of the director under the authority of the governor.  Governor Mary Fallin then reappointed Lake with Senate confirmation.


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