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Danielle Barnes

Human Services

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Danielle Whitworth Barnes was reappointed to serve as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet as the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services in 2019.

The Department provides services to over two million Tennesseans each year through programs such as Families First, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Child Support, Child Care Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, Disability Determination Services, Adult Protective Services, Child and Adult Food Program and Social Services Block Grant. Operating a budget of over $2.6 billion and providing leadership to over 4,000 employees, Ms. Barnes continues to drive for strong results for individuals, families and communities through meaningful work outcomes and community partnerships.

Since her appointment in 2017, Ms. Barnes has led the Department in operationalizing its two-generational approach through the concept of building a thriving Tennessee. Under her leadership the Department has increased the number of collaborative partnerships with emphasis on feeding families, enhancing the customer experience, modernizing technology, and employment opportunities.

Prior to her appointment at DHS, she served as Deputy Commissioner & General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Human Resources. In her capacity, she had oversight over all administrative and legal issues within the Department, offering counsel and advice to her agency, other state agencies, state employees and individuals on employment matters. Before her tenure in public service, she also practiced at the law firm of Farris Mathews Branan Bobango & Hellen, PLC in both the Nashville and Memphis office.

Ms. Barnes holds certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), and International Public Management Association Senior Certified Professional (IPMA-SCP). In addition, she is a Rule 31 Listed Mediator. She earned her undergraduate degree from Spelman College and her law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law. Ms. Barnes is also an active member of various boards and councils throughout middle Tennessee.