From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Competent, compassionate people are DHW’s foundation

December 29, 2023
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

As I reflect on my five years at DHW, I’m filled with gratitude. Most of all, I’m grateful to DHW’s 3,000 competent, compassionate employees who are selfless, passionate, and dedicated in their service to Idahoans.

I frequently say that my job at DHW is to support staff so they can do their best work, and it's been my honor to help make that happen. Day to day, it's not always easy to see that the work we do has impact but reflecting month to month or year to year easily shows that small efforts add up to significant accomplishments.

As I reflect on the past five years, I feel a sense of pride to have seen DHW’s employees do so much, and I’ve written about some of their accomplishments in my blogs the last few weeks. We’ve worked to transform behavioral healthcare, implement Medicaid expansion, respond to crises, raise the bar at our state hospitals, and much more.

The breadth and depth of the programs and services at DHW is far more than I expected. Before coming to DHW, I had no idea that the department dispatches Idaho Transportation Department snowplows, ensures compliance with the law requiring businesses to sell tobacco only to those over 21, or that I would be the guardian for around 400 children in foster care while they wait for their adoptions.

These and other countless other amazing services couldn’t happen without DHW’s staff. Their expertise and knowledge are critical to the department’s success, and they impress and inspire me every day with how they blend expertise and knowledge with compassion, creativity, and practicality to find solutions for Idahoans.

My first day on the job, I received some sage advice from former DHW Director Russ Barron, who said: “There will be tough days ahead and wonderful days, and your team will be there to support you in every way possible.”

Truer words were never spoken. The wonderful days were heartwarming and inspiring. The tough days were made better by knowing DHW’s staff does its best every day, and by having each other to lean on.

This is, by far, the best job I’ve ever had. Thanks to DHW’s staff, other government agencies, and community partners for all you have taught me and for your support as we work to fulfill DHW’s mission: to strengthen the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans.

This is my final blog as director at DHW, but you’ll hear regularly from Interim Director Dean Cameron in the new year as he takes the reigns and guides DHW into 2024.

Thanks to DHW’s employees for the honor of serving alongside you and thank-you to the people of Idaho for entrusting me with this important job. I cannot imagine a better or more fulfilling capstone to my career.

I hope you have a safe and healthy start to the new year! 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at

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