Danielle BarnesBoard Member

    Danielle Whitworth Barnes serves as Managing Director for EY in the Government and Public Sector Practice. Leading the EY Health and Human Services pillar, Danielle focuses on the key intersections of policy, process, and people across various social services programs. Her work as a Government Executive Lead within the firm is dedicated to helping clients create solutions that have lasting impact.

    Prior to her appointment at EY, Danielle served as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet as the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Service. Under two different Governor’s, she led the operations and strategic direction of the state’s second largest agency. The Department provides services to approximately two million Tennesseans each year through programs such as Families First, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Child Support, Child Care Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, Disability Determination Services, Adult Protective Services, Child and Adult Food Program and Social Services Block Grant. Operating a budget of over $2.1 billion, providing leadership to more than 4,000 employees, and managing 113 facilities, Danielle maintained a reputation for driving  for strong results for individuals, families and communities through meaningful work outcomes and community partnerships.

    Through her work in Human Services, Danielle led the department in operationalizing its two-generational approach through the concept of building a thriving Tennessee. To further the Department’s impact, Danielle realigned the Department to provide transformative services to Tennesseans. Under her leadership, the Department increased the number of collaborative partnerships with emphasis on meeting the essential needs of families, enhancing the customer experience, modernizing technology, reducing administrative process, increasing access to services in rural communities, and connecting DHS customers to sustainable employment opportunities. As Commissioner during the COVID-19 pandemic, she ushered new programs and processes, such as P-EBT, Pandemic Cash Assistance, Pandemic Child Care, and others,  to quickly respond to the needs of Tennesseans.

    Prior to her appointment at DHS, she served as Deputy Commissioner & General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Human Resources. In her capacity, she co-authored and implemented the Tennessee Excellence and Accountability (T.E.A.M.) Act which overhauled the state’s civil service practices, created the state’s mediation program, revamped the State’s performance management processes, and enacted pay for performance for state employees. Before her tenure in public service, she also practiced with a private law firm.

    Danielle holds certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), and International Public Management Association Senior Certified Professional (IPMA-SCP). She earned her undergraduate degree from Spelman College and her law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law.

    kalen russell headshot - Think Tennesseebob cooper headshot - Think Tennessee