One of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Cabinet secretaries announced her resignation from state government Thursday.
Ruth Johnson, secretary of the state Department of Children and Family Services, is leaving to take a job in South Carolina, where her son plans to play college basketball.
The governor named Suzy Sonnier, chief operations officer for the Louisiana Workforce Commission, to take Johnson’s place beginning Tuesday.
Sonnier will make $135,195 a year, the same salary Johnson drew, the governor’s spokesman Kyle Plotkin said.
The state Department of Children and Family Services pursues child support from parents delinquent in their payments.
The agency also oversees food stamps, welfare and other funding designed to help struggling families.
The agency has been free of controversy under Johnson’s leadership.
Johnson became head of the department in 2010 when she replaced Kristy Nichols. Nichols now is the governor’s deputy chief of staff.
In South Carolina, Johnson will become deputy director for finance and administration at that state’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Johnson declined an interview Thursday, but told staff by email that she wants to watch her son play college basketball and take the time to travel for away games.
“While I am moving to South Carolina, Louisiana will always be my home and where I will return to once my son completes his college work,” Johnson wrote.
Sonnier worked as deputy secretary of programs for DCFS before moving to the Louisiana Workforce Commission in 2010.
She was a senior adviser on children’s policy to former Govs. Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco.
“I’m thrilled, very excited,” Sonnier said Thursday in an interview.
She said the Governor’s Office approached her about the job.
In a prepared statement, the governor lauded Johnson and welcomed Sonnier to his Cabinet.
“We’re excited to welcome Suzy back to DCFS. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from across state government that will help us continue to improve the delivery of critical services for our people,” Jindal said in his prepared statement.