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Health Department gets new interim director

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) units in Jefferson and Madison County have a new interim director. She is Jennifer S. Johnson, and was appointed to the position on Friday, Jan. 8.

Johnson, a Tallahassee resident, formerly served as staff director for the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA), which generates data, evaluative research and objective analyses to assist the Florida Legislature in its budget and policy deliberations.

Johnson introduced herself to the Madison County Commission on Wednesday morning, Jan. 13, telling commissioners that her decision to take the job here after 16 years with the OPPAGA was prompted in part by her desire to gain hands-on experience.

“I’m looking forward to serving Madison County and working with the County Commission to address important public health priorities,” Johnson said.

She described her previous work at the OPPAGA as being largely research based but even so preparing her to a degree for the present position.

“As a staff director, my areas of research and evaluation included state and local public health, Florida’s Medicaid program, developmental disabilities, health care regulation, long-term health care, substance abuse and mental health,” said Johnson.

Kim Barnhill, formerly the health officer in Madison and Jefferson County and now deputy secretary for County Health System with the FDOH, praised Johnson’s qualifications in the FDOH’s formal communique announcing Johnson’s appointment.

“Jennifer is a highly driven and qualified individual with a passion for public health and community improvement,” Barnhill is quoted saying, a description that aptly describes herself. “I look forward to seeing Jennifer’s leadership in action as she serves the people and departments of Jefferson and Madison counties.”

A graduate of the University of Florida, where she received a Bachelor of Science in zoology, Johnson earned her Master of Public Health from the University of South Florida. She is currently working on a doctorate degree in public administration from Florida State University.

Johnson’s resume shows that she started with the OPPAGA as a legislative policy analyst in 1999 and worked her way up to staff director in 2010, in which position she remained until December 2015.

Her professional affiliations include membership in the National Academy of State Health Policy and the National Conference of State Legislatures Health and Human Services Committee. In 2015, Johnson served as program co-chair for the Southeast Evaluation Association.

Her resume shows that she has participated in numerous legislative and conference presentations and have been variously published in many OPPAGA publications and professional journals.

Johnson can be reached at (850) 342-0170, ext. 2011 (office) or

Jennifer Johnson
Jennifer Johnson
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