Murphy Taps Johnson for HHS and Beyer for Children and Families

Insider NJ's Max Pizarro discusses how the ongoing political drama between Gov. Phil Murphy and South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross III is like an ongoing, simultaneous screening of the movies Goodfellas and On the Waterfront.

Putting an end to some mild buzz around Assemblyman Herb Conaway and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter respectively, Governor-elect Phil Murphy today appointed former Obama administration official Carole Johnson as the next Commissioner of the Department of Human Services and named Christine Norbut Beyer, the former director of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services, to be Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families.

“These are two of the most consequential positions in state government, with the lives and dignity of countless New Jerseyans in the balance. I am asking both Carole and Christine to be the voices for those New Jerseyans who have no one else to speak on their behalf,” said Governor-elect Murphy. “We need strong leadership that understands that even one person falling through a hole in the safety net is one too many and that will strive day-in and day-out to ensure that everyone who looks to us for protection, or health care, or for a chance to live a fuller life is treated not as a number, but as a person with tremendous potential.”

Murphy made the announcement at Homefront in Ewing Township, Mercer County, a decommissioned Naval Base which was transformed into a 42,000 square foot safe, secure emergency residence for 38 families and a one-stop social service campus.

The Department of Human Services is the state’s largest agency, with more than 13,000 employees serving roughly 1.5 million New Jerseyans. The department’s programs assist low-income families, parents and children in need of health care, individuals with developmental or late-onset disabilities, and individuals who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. The department oversees the state’s Medicaid program.

“Real families face these challenges each day, and our challenge is to help them with a hand up,” said Johnson. “I share Governor-elect Murphy’s strong commitment to a government that works tirelessly for the people it serves, particularly children, families, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and the economically disadvantaged. And, should I be confirmed, I will work to help realize the vision of a stronger and fairer New Jersey that recognizes that meeting the needs of each of our citizens is vital to our shared future.”

Raised in North Cape May, Johnson, 48, most recently served President Barack Obama as Senior Health Policy Advisor on the White House Domestic Policy Council, providing guidance on a range of issues, from mental and substance use disorders to protecting the health care safety net.

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Johnson was a health policy researcher at George Washington University, and has held senior positions in Congress and at the Alliance of Community Health Plans, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the American Heart Association.

Created in 2006, the Department of Children and Families oversees all aspects of the state’s child behavioral health and welfare system, including investigating allegations of abuse or neglect, and management of the foster care system. The department also contains the state’s Division on Women.

“Strong families and supportive communities are the key to keeping children safe and stable. I look forward to working toward these goals as Commissioner,” said Beyer. “My heart that calls me to this work and continues to push me forward, striving for excellence for children and families. I thank Governor-elect Murphy for this honor and look forward to working with him on his vision of a stronger New Jersey.”

Norbut Beyer, 49, is returning to the Department of Children and Families, where she previously served as Assistant Commissioner and Director of the Division of Youth and Family Services.

Since 2012, she has been a Senior Director at Casey Family Programs, the nation’s leading organization committed to improving child welfare and seeking ways to safely reduce the need for foster care. Prior to joining state service, Norbut Beyer served as a division director and administrator of youth and behavioral health programs for the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Metuchen.

Both nominees will require confirmation by the State Senate.

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