Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday that she will appoint Jerry Foxhoven, a well-known and highly respected leader in child protection and family law, to serve as director of the Iowa Department of Human Services. Foxhoven will begin his new positionThursday.

jerry foxhoven

“Jerry Foxhoven is the compassionate, thoughtful leader we need serving in this important role,” Gov. Reynolds said. “DHS is on the front lines, working in all Iowa’s communities to ensure our state’s families are able to access the service and protection they expect and deserve. Jerry has the experience, qualification, respect and passion to excel in this demanding role.”

Foxhoven, 64, began practicing law in 1977 with a strong emphasis on trial practice in criminal and civil law. He was also extensively involved in juvenile and family law cases until 2000 when he began as administrator for the Iowa Child Advocacy Board. In this role, he was responsible for developing and implementing personnel policies, strategic planning and public policy advocacy. While in this position, he was also director of two separate child welfare advocacy programs: Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and Iowa Citizen Foster Care Review Board programs.

“I have spent my life defending and protecting the rights of others,” Foxhoven said. “To do so in this elevated position is a challenge I humbly accept. I look forward to building trust and relationships in all 99 counties, working on behalf of all Iowans as we work together to solve the challenges many Iowa families are facing each day.”

In 2006, Foxhoven became director of the Joan & Lyle Middleton Center for Children’s Rights, a state and national advocacy center focusing on children’s rights issues. Around the same time, he joined Drake Law School as a clinical professor. He instructed juvenile law for third-year law students in a clinical setting, supervising students in juvenile court proceedings and in the Legislative Practice Program as they drafted bills and lobbied for passage of bills pertaining to issues involving youth.

“I’ve known Jerry Foxhoven since my time as a student at Drake Law School,” Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg said. As State Public Defender, I was honored to work with him while he led the Drake Legal Clinic. Jerry has a servant’s heart and has worked to protect children his entire career. I am thankful he has chosen to use his time and talents in this position, and I am excited to partner with him to serve the needs of Iowans.”

Most recently, Foxhoven served as executive director of Clinical Programs and Professor of Law at Drake University’s School of Law. There, he supervised a number of administrative responsibilities relating to the school.

Foxhoven’s child protection leadership experience includes:

  • Co-Chair, Children’s Mental Health and Well-Being Workgroup, 2015-16
  • Chair, Iowa Juvenile Home Protection Task Force (appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad), 2013
  • Member, Children Disabilities Services Workgroup, Mental Health and Disabilities Redesign Project, 2011-13
  • Facilitator, Iowa Child Abuse Registry Revision Workgroup
  • Chair, Iowa Child Welfare Advisory Committee, 2008-16 (appointed by Gov. Chet Culver and confirmed by the Iowa Senate)
  • Board of Directors, National CASA, 2006-09
  • Board of Directors, Iowa Child Abuse Prevention Council, 2010-2015
  • Member, Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee, Iowa Juvenile Justice Advisory Council, 2005-2012
  • Member, Iowa Children’s Justice State Council, 2007-2014
  • Member, Iowa Child Policy Coalition, 2007-present
  • Member, Iowa Child Protection Council, 2003-2019 (Chair, 2004-2016)
  • Member, National Advisory Board, Fostering Families Today magazine, 2001-present
  • Member, Diversity Committee, Iowa Supreme Court Select Committee to Review State Court Practices in Child Welfare Matters, 2000-2007
  • Senior Fellow, Center for Adoption Research, University of Massachusetts, 2002-2004
  • Board of Directors, Iowa Friends of Foster Children Foundation, 1989-2002 (President, 1997, 1999-2002)
  • Governing Board Member, Kidsake, Iowa’s Special Needs Adoption Project, 2000-2002
  • Member, National Foster Care Advisory Committee, Child Welfare League of America, 1998-2000
  • Chair, Oversight Committee and Chair, Advisory Committee, Enhanced Quality Improvement Project (EQUIO). A three

Foxhoven has earned a number of state and national awards for his work on behalf of children and efforts to bolster diversity:

  • “Friend of Children” award from The Coalition for Family and Children Services in Iowa, 2016
  • “Outstanding Contribution to the Well-Being of Children and Youth” award from YESS in Ames, 2013
  • “Friend of BLSA” award from the Black Law Student Association at Drake University
  • “Margaret Hess Leadership in Family Empowerment (LIVE)” award from Youth and Shelter Services, 2013
  • “American Dreams” award from the Iowa Friends of Foster Children Foundation, 2008
  • “Champion for Children award from Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, 2007
  • “Friend to Iowa’s Foster/Adopted Youth and Alumni” award, Elevate to Inspire, Children & Families of Iowa, 2007
  • “Angel in Adoption” award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, 2004
  • “Leader of the Year” award from Gov. Thomas Vilsack, 2002
  • Served on many committees and workgroups on racial disparity issues, including the Legal Redress Committee of the Des Moines Branch of the NAACP, the Diversity Committee of National CASA and the Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee of the Iowa Juvenile Justice Advisory Council (a program of the Iowa Department of Human Rights)
  • Served as a consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland, and as faculty for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges on the issue of disproportionate treatment based on race and ethnicity
  • Lectured on racial and ethnic over-representation issues in Portland (Ore.), New Orleans, Louisiana, Newark (N.J.), Philadelphia, Louisville and across the state of Iowa

Foxhoven has authored a number of articles and given hundreds of presentations throughout Iowa and the country. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Morningside College in 1974 and earned his Juris Doctor from Drake University Law School in 1977. He lives in Clive with his wife, Julie.

Foxhoven replaces Chuck Palmer, who retires as DHS director Friday.