Deputy Commissioner James G. Koppel
James Koppel was appointed in April 2011 to serve as deputy commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health.
As deputy commissioner, Koppel serves as the chief of staff of the Minnesota Department of Health.
MDH is the state's lead public health agency, responsible for protecting, maintaining and improving the health of all Minnesotans. The department operates programs in disease prevention and control, health promotion, community public health, environmental health, health care policy, and regulation of health care providers.
The department employs approximately 1,400 staff in the Twin Cities area and in seven offices in Greater Minnesota.
Prior to his appointment, Koppel served as executive director of Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Minnesota and regional director of Children’s Defense Fund Upper Midwest Region. CDF is a national non-profit child advocacy organization based in Washington, DC.
As regional director, Koppel managed outreach, organizing and advocacy projects in Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana.
Koppel began his work at CDF in1996 as state director of the CDF Minnesota office. During his time as the state director, Minnesota made significant public policy improvements in children’s health coverage, child welfare, low-income family tax policy, and welfare reform (Minnesota is the only state that actually moves families out of poverty as part of their welfare policy).
Additionally, CDF Minnesota also has helped thousands of families get the health care, child care, nutrition and tax benefits that they are entitled to through CDF’s tax and benefit outreach and enrollment efforts. After years of development, the Bridge to Benefits project and web-based screening tool was launched in 2007. The project expanded to Montana in 2008 and to North and South Dakota in 2009.
Bridge to Benefits allows families to be screened in minutes and immediately be shown potential eligibility for public programs such as health care coverage, child care subsidies, low income tax credits, food stamps, energy assistance and other nutritional programs such as WIC and free or reduced school meals.
Previously, Koppel was the vice president of policy for the Minnesota Hospital and Healthcare Partnership for ten years. During his tenure, he took a two-year leave of absence to serve as the executive director of the Minnesota Health Care Access Commission. This commission developed the initial plan for universal health care coverage, which eventually led to the passage of MinnesotaCare in 1992.
Jim received his bachelor’s degree from Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio and his master’s in social work from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Other work experience includes policy and advocacy work for the National Association of Counties, and health benefits consulting to business and government.