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Clarence H. Carter

Human Services

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Clarence H. Carter was appointed to serve as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet as the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services in January 2021. Mr. Carter leads the state’s second largest agency with an operating budget of more than $2.3 billion and nearly 4,000 employees working in offices in all 95 counties. The Department is responsible for administering programs and services to support the overall well-being of individuals and families through employment assistance, vocational training, protective services and programs to meet essential needs.

Prior to his appointment, Mr. Carter served on the federal level as Director of the Office of Family Assistance and Acting Director of the Office of Community Services within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While there, Mr. Carter led the administration of seven federal programs including the $16.5 billion Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

Mr. Carter has served his entire career administrating public safety net agencies and programs at the federal, state, and local levels of government, serving two presidents, four governors, and a mayor. Mr. Carter served as the Director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security and Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services. He also managed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and served as the Director of the Office of Community Services during the Bush Administration. On the local level, Mr. Carter served as Director of the Washington, D.C., Department of Human Services, where he led an initiative to transform the District’s shelter-based homeless system to one that assisted those served to finding permanent residency.

Mr. Carter also founded the Institute for the Improvement of the Human Condition in 2015. At that organization, he worked with state and local safety net agencies to meet the emergency needs of socially and economically vulnerable citizens.

Mr. Carter earned his bachelor’s degree at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Mr. Carter has an enduring commitment to transform the social services safety net so that services not only support recipients with their short-term needs, but also position them for long lasting self-sustainability.