DHS deputy commissioners reverse course, decide to stay

2 veteran staffers rescinded their announced resignations Wednesday

Staffing shakeups in the Minnesota Department of Human Services continued Wednesday as a new interim commissioner took the reins of the massive department.

In an email to employees, interim Department of Human Services Commissioner Pam Wheelock said department chief of staff Stacie Weeks submitted her resignation, just two days after her boss, former Commissioner Tony Lourey, left his post.

She also said two deputy commissioners, Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson, have now rescinded resignations they submitted last week.

“We are working hard to bring stability to the department and to ensure our important work continues,” Wheelock, who took over the agency on Tuesday, said in the email. “Deputy Commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson have rescinded their resignations, which I welcome as a way to ensure continuity that will benefit the organization during this transition period. I thank Chuck and Claire for their willingness to continue their leadership roles during my tenure.”

Pam Wheelock
Pam Wheelock, the interim commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Courtesy of University of Minnesota

The deputies, who have more than three decades of experience between them, had initially submitted their resignations over concerns about the direction of the department.

The upheaval at the department come just six months into the administration of Gov. Tim Walz, who has given little explanation for the changes.

Wheelock, who has a long resume of managing in the public and private sector, also made clear in the email she doesn’t plan to serve in the role of commissioner for more than an interim basis.

“I am confident that with your assistance, we will continue the good work of the agency and be in a strong position for a new commissioner going forward,” she wrote. “A new commissioner, as is always the case, will determine the makeup of his or her senior leadership team, which includes the chief of staff and deputy commissioner positions. Your assistant commissioners and I will continue to provide more information as we can.”