In December 2012, John A. Wagner was named the first Chief Operating Officer of First 5 LA, building on his nearly two decades of experience in running a number of state departments in the health and human services arena. In August 2016, John was promoted to the position of Executive Vice President. Prior to joining First 5 LA, John served as Director of the California Department of Community Services and Development from 2011-2012, and Director of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) from 2007-2011. At CDSS, he oversaw a budget of over $20 billion and programs affecting California’s most vulnerable residents including foster children and youth; children and families receiving aid through the California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs); and children and adults in state-licensed community care facilities.

John has served as senior policymaker and advisor to both Republican and Democratic administrations in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and California. Prior to coming to California, he served as the Assistant Secretary for Children, Youth and Families for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, where he coordinated policies and programs across many state agencies. Additionally, John served as the state’s Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, overseeing the state welfare agency from 2002 to 2007.

John earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University.




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