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Missouri Social Service director quits, returning to St. Louis to run Grace Hill centers

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 20, 2013: Five months after taking the post, Missouri Department of Social Services Director Alan Freeman is resigning to return to his old job in St. Louis as president and chief executive officer of Grace Hill Health Centers Inc.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced Freeman’s departure today, which comes just a week after the governor’s announcement, without details, that Ian McCaslin was being replaced as director of the department's Medicaid division.

It’s unclear if the two departures are related, or if they are tied to the General Assembly’s decision this past session not to approve the state’s expansion of the Medicaid program, as sought by Nixon and business and healthcare-related groups around the state.

Freeman is leaving May 31. His hiring was announced late last December, right before the legislative session opened.

“I greatly appreciate Alan’s leadership and service to the state of Missouri, and his tireless commitment to improving the health of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens,” Nixon said in a statement. “Returning to Grace Hill will allow Alan to continue to serve our state and pursue his passion for providing quality, affordable health care to families in need.”

Nixon said that Deputy Director of Social Services Brian Kinkade will serve as acting director when Freeman’s resignation takes effect at the end of the month. Kinkade had run the agency earlier, from 2011 until Freeman’s arrival.

“Brian is a trusted leader whose long career has earned him respect on both sides of the aisle,”  Nixon said. “I have full confidence in his continued commitment to helping Missouri’s children and families live safe and healthy lives.”

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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