Gov. Kevin Stitt (right) introduces Justin Brown during a news conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday. Brown is CEO of a company that owns assisted living facilities in Oklahoma and neighboring states. Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman

OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday announced the appointment of Justin Brown to serve as director of the Department of Human Services.

Brown, 40, of Edmond will replace Ed Lake, who held the post for seven years.

Brown is stepping down as CEO of Choice Capital Partners, the ownership entity for Villagio Senior Living, with seven assisted living and memory care centers in three states.

He will start June 17 and earn $185,000 a year, Stitt said.

Stitt, who thanked Lake for his service, said the DHS director’s job was one of the most important appointments that he needed to make.

The Department of Human Services is one of the state’s largest agencies, with about 7,000 employees and a budget of more than $2 billion.

“I believe life is participatory, that it is not something you can just stand by and watch happen, that you have to stand up and take a role in it,” Brown said. “If you have something you want to change, you have to stand up and engage with it.”

He said it is an honor to serve the state.

Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Oklahoma State University.

He has served as CEO for Choice Capital Partners since 2008. Prior to that, he was a vice president for BOK Financial.

Lake took over Nov. 1, 2012, after the previous director, Howard Hendrick, retired when child deaths resulted in erosion of confidence in his leadership.

After coming to Oklahoma, Lake made his top priority implementation of the Pinnacle Plan, a series of child welfare reforms promised in the settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit over its treatment of abused and neglected children in its care.

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Barbara Hoberock



Twitter: @bhoberock

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