New Jersey Department of Human Services Commissioner Leaving to Join President-Elect Biden’s COVID-19 Response Team

By: Savannah Scarborough, Writer / Follow South Jersey Community Resources Intern

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. — On December 29, Governor Phil Murphy announced that Carole Johnson, the Commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Human Services, will depart the Murphy Administration on January 15 to work for President-Elect Joe Biden’s administration.

Johnson is set to join President-Elect Biden’s White House COVID-19 Response Team. She had prior experience in health care and public policy work in Capitol Hill, in academia, before joining Gov. Murphy’s Cabinet on January 16, 2018. Johnson also served more than five years as the Domestic Policy Council public health leader under President Barack Obama, where she dealt with public health emergencies like Ebola and Zika.

 “For three years, she has skillfully and ably managed our largest agency in state government, overseeing Medicaid, food assistance, childcare programs, and mental health and addiction services, among other responsibilities,” Gov. Murphy said of Johnson in a press release. “We’re sad to see her depart the Administration, but are excited that she’ll be taking a critical role serving President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris in the White House as our nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.”

On January 16, Deputy Commissioner Sarah Adelman will become the next acting human services commissioner in place of Johnson. Adelman currently serves as Deputy Commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Human Services. Her responsibilities include overseeing the Division of Developmental Disabilities, Division of Aging Services, and the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, which operates the Medicaid/NJ FamilyCare program. She also serves as the Commissioner’s designee on the Board of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.

The Department of Human Services is the largest agency in the state’s government. It provides healthcare and social services to millions of New Jersey residents through Medicaid, food assistance, childcare, mental health and addiction services, aging supports and services, disability services, and supports for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Throughout Johnson’s three years of leadership under the Murphy Administration, she has completed extensive development and changes. These include investing nearly $100 million into new childcare subsidies, increasing access to food assistance programs by launching online shopping options for food stamps, adding new Medicaid benefits, and expanding access to opioid addiction treatments, among others.[MM1] 

“I hope to continue building on our efforts to serve New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents, as well as making services available to many who need support for the first time as a result of COVID-19. I am grateful for the Governor’s confidence and will work to ensure a seamless transition for the residents who rely on the Department of Human Services for assistance”, Adelman, the incoming Department of Human Services Acting Commissioner, said in a release.

This new and exciting change will bring new opportunities and changes for the state of New Jersey and the Murphy Administration, all while President-Elect Biden is working towards bettering his administration and the COVID-19 pandemic by adding Johnson to his team.

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.