Media Release Banner


June 1, 2023

Governor Parson Elevates Acting Director Robert J. Knodell to Full Status Director

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Today, Governor Parson announced that he is elevating Robert J. Knodell to full status Director of Department of Social Services (DSS), effective June 2, 2023. Director Knodell has served as the Acting Director of DSS since October 2021.

“We have greatly enjoyed having Acting Directors Knodell’s perspectives in our Cabinet and have been extremely impressed with his leadership at DSS," Governor Parson said. "He has accomplished a lot for the state of Missouri. From improving customer service to helping bring an end to a pandemic, he works hard for the people of Missouri, and we're excited to announce him as full status Director. We have much left to accomplish for Missourians, but with him in our Cabinet and on our team, we know we can get it done."

“I am incredibly grateful to have the Governor’s confidence, and I consider it a tremendous honor to continue to work alongside the outstanding team at DSS as we strive to serve Missourians in more accessible, efficient, and transparent ways,” said Director Knodell. “We have accomplished remarkable things in my short time at the department, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to advocate for improvements for our dedicated team members and the citizens we serve each day.”

Since joining DSS 19 months ago, Director Knodell has prioritized improving workforce compensation, working closely with Governor Parson and the General Assembly towards historic pay increases for team members, shift differential increases for team members tasked with evening and overnight care, and workplace innovations. He has also launched aggressive recruitment and retention strategies to reduce vacancies and staff turnover, with a heightened focus on empowering front-line, customer-serving team members across the state and improving stakeholder relationships with partners and advocates.

In addition to his focus on the workforce, Director Knodell has successfully accelerated important updates to technology and projects within the department, an initiative aimed at replacing and upgrading antiquated systems to more efficiently manage workloads and better serve more than 2 million Missourians who rely on DSS and the services provided.

“Director Knodell’s extensive knowledge and expertise has brought DSS the right formula of stability, accountability, supportive leadership, and creative problem solving,” said Scott Odum, Division of Youth Services Director. “His unwavering pursuit of improvements for our dedicated teams doing the challenging work each day, as well as great outcomes for Missourians, will undoubtedly continue to move the department in a positive direction.”

Kim Evans, Family Support Division Director, added, “Director Knodell is a proven leader and strong advocate for the department and our teams across the state. I am confident that his guidance will help us continue down a path that truly makes a difference in the overall health and welfare of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Director Knodell is a native of Poplar Bluff and has a longstanding career in serving Missourians on the staffs of the Missouri General Assembly and the Governor in budgetary, policy, and leadership roles. Prior to being named Acting Director of DSS, he served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Parson as well as Acting Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services to provide temporary support while a search was underway for a permanent director.

The mission of the Department of Social Services is to empower Missourians to live safe, healthy, and productive lives.



Media Contact

Heather Dolce