Gov. Butch Otter has named Russ Barron, deputy director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, to succeed retiring director Richard Armstrong, who leaves the post at the end of June.
Barron, 51, an Emmett resident, has been deputy director since 2014 overseeing regional directors and the department’s Welfare and Family and Community Services divisions. He has been with the department since 1998 and earlier served as Welfare division administrator and as statewide program manager and other positions with the Child Support Program.
Prior to coming to Idaho, he worked for the Missouri Department of Labor and the Texas Department of Human Resources. He has a bachelor’s in business management from Abilene Christian University in Texas and an MBA from Boise State University.
Otter, in a news release announcing the appointment, praised Barron’s record of achievement and progress up through the ranks and said he “has never lost sight of the properly limited role of government in the lives of all our citizens, including human services recipients.”
Armstrong led DHW for 11 years, its longest-serving head, and retires June 30 as the most durable current director of a state department. He’s credited with streamlining state systems to determine benefit eligibility for DHW clients, building the statewide health insurance exchange created under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, and driving the reinvention of state health care to move from expensive fee-for-service to less costly primary and preventive care.
“The department has made great strides in delivering meaningful services efficiently and effectively under the direction of Dick Armstrong, and I’m looking forward to working with the department’s employees, partners, and stakeholders to continue that success,” Barron said in a statement
Barron’s salary will be $155,000. He and his wife Michelle have two sons and two daughters.