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Ryan Johnson: Bridging the Worlds of Extension and the Department of Human Services

By Renee Obrecht-Como, Program Operations Director — Health & Nutrition 
I am pleased to announce that Associate Program Director Ryan Johnson will be expanding his work with Family Development in the new year. Ryan has been with FD Health and Nutrition for nearly five years, during which time he has worked exclusively with SNAP-Ed. He is the liaison between Extension and the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), which directs all SNAP activities in our state. Ryan has developed and maintained partnerships, administered engagement and communication projects, and provided policy analysis to benefit SNAP-Ed programming.

Of course, OEO’s anti-poverty work extends beyond SNAP, and in 2015 Ryan will be able to reach beyond the boundaries of the SNAP-Ed grant, although it will continue to guide the majority of his work. For example, as SNAP-Ed outreach coordinator, Ryan established relationships with county commissioners and Extension committees, community action agencies, social service providers, and other organizations. Now he will be able to promote a range of FD programming with low-income communities. He is already leading an ambitious statewide assessment project for Health and Nutrition that will broaden and deepen partnerships across the Spectrum of Prevention. The assessment project seeks to achieve maximum collective impact on healthy eating and active living for low-income Minnesotans. SNAP-Ed is central but not the exclusive focus.

In case you are not familiar with Ryan, he has a master’s degree in public affairs from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a rich background that includes expertise with policy education and analysis, as well as work with Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota and the Minnesota Literacy Council. For the past three years, he has been central to the planning, implementation, and success of the annual Food Access Summits.

Ryan works out of the Department of Human Services office on Lafayette Road in St. Paul, and he maintains two email addresses — one with the University,, and one with the State of Minnesota, If you don’t know Ryan already, take some time to get to know him in 2015.

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