From DHW Interim Director Dean Cameron: I’m humbled and honored for this opportunity to serve

January 5, 2024
Interim DHW Director Dean Cameron

When Gov. Brad Little reached out to me in November to discuss the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), I thought he wanted help finding the next director. I was first surprised, and then humbled and honored, that he asked me to serve as interim director following Director Dave Jeppesen’s retirement. My appointment became effective this week.

Since the governor’s announcement, I’ve been meeting regularly with DHW’s senior leaders to get to know them, as well as to learn more about current department programs and issues. After these first months of getting acquainted, I’m happy to say that the department has capable, talented, and passionate leadership. The department also has opportunities for growth, and I’m excited to roll up my sleeves with DHW’s talented staff to help make that happen in the weeks and months ahead.

I’m no stranger to Idaho government. I concurrently serve as director of the Idaho Department of Insurance, a post I’ve held since 2015 when I was appointed by former Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.

I’m a third-generation insurance agent who’s worked in Idaho for 32 years. I have three decades experience serving in state government, with 25 years in the Idaho State Senate. My wife, Linda, and I have three children and seven grandchildren.

Earlier this week, I answered a few questions to help DHW’s 3,000 employees get to know me better, and I want to share some of my answers in this blog so that more Idahoans have the opportunity to get to know me as well.

Thanks for reading, and thanks as well for the opportunity to serve.

Question: Tell us a little about yourself.

Director Cameron: I have a wonderful supportive wife and family, three children with three incredible spouses and seven fantastic grandchildren. I was raised throughout southern Idaho, mostly in Rupert and Burley. I graduated from Meridian High School in 1979, when there was only one high school in the Ada west area. I majored in political science and graduated from Ricks College in 1984. I went into the insurance business with my father. I am a third-generation agent.

I was appointed to the Idaho State Senate in 1991 and ran for re-election in 1992 and every two years through 2015. I served as chair of the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee from 1993 through 1999. I was on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) from 1993 through 2015, serving as chair from 2001 through 2015. I was appointed Director of the Idaho Department of Insurance in June 2015. I served as national President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2022.

Question: What was your first thought when Gov. Little asked you to be interim director?

Director Cameron: I was shocked! I knew Director Jeppesen was retiring, but I thought Governor Little was going to ask me to help find his replacement. I had a similar conversation about this job years ago and helped find and recommend Director Jeppesen for the job.

Question: What are you most excited about at DHW?

Director Cameron: I am most excited about making a difference in people’s lives. I love helping people. I love making a difference.

Question: What are you most proud of in your professional career?

Director Cameron: There are so many accomplishments that I have been able to collaborate with others to achieve: helping kids get coverage for hearing aids, kids with autism receiving appropriate treatment, the creation of the nation’s most successful state based health insurance exchange, and the best high risk reinsurance pool. The list is very long, but I did not do anything by myself.

Question: What is one thing you want Idahoans to know about you?

Director Cameron: I care about the incredible services DHW provides and the citizens DHW serves. I also have tremendous respect for legislative process and for those who give of their time, talent, and resources to serve the people of Idaho.

Question: Why do you think the department’s work is important?

Director Cameron: I have a strong core belief that society, and we as individuals, have a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. Our role is critical to deliver those services. I also strongly believe we have a responsibility to protect society, especially our children. Every child deserves an opportunity to thrive and feel loved. That responsibility includes the well-being and safety of our children, as well as the health of our community, care for our elderly, and stewardship of our physically and mentally challenged.

Question: You’ve served in Idaho state government for 32 years. Why is public service important to you?

Director Cameron: As a young child, I learned the importance of service. I remember spending the days with Grandma Brown, who was not my grandmother or relative. She was simply unable to care for her very large garden. The pay was the liverwurst sandwich and the feeling I got after helping her. I’m not a fan of liverwurst, but I am a fan of that feeling. I am dedicated to improving the situation, to lifting another, to carrying another’s burden and comforting those in need of comfort.

Question: Is there anything else you’d like to tell Idahoans about yourself?

Director Cameron: First, I am not Director Jeppesen, who is a tireless public servant. He is a good man who has given so much to our state and this agency. I wear a different set of glasses and have different experiences and perspectives.

Second, change is not easy but at times is needed for progress and growth. DHW has the opportunity to deal with several challenging issues. I see them as opportunities, and look forward to working through them with DHW’s staff, lawmakers, the governor, and partner agencies. 

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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