Carol Falkowski, a drug abuse expert whose understanding of addiction has made her one of the nation's most respected voices in the field, is retiring from state government, the Minnesota Department of Human Services announced Thursday.
Falkowski, the state's drug abuse strategy officer, will leave her post Sept. 14.
Even with this phase of her career ending, "You haven't seen the last of me," Falkowski said in a statement accompanying the announcement. "I hope to do even more writing, education and public speaking over the next few years."
Over a quarter-century, Falkowski, 59, has testified before Congress, devised anti-drug-abuse strategies, and directed professional and community workshops in 28 states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. She has received national awards and is the author of the reference book "Dangerous Drugs."
Her depth of knowledge and ability to explain trends in drug abuse has made her a favorite of the national news media, leading to appearances on NBC-TV's "The Today Show," CNN, National Public Radio and Fox News, as well as articles in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Time magazine.
"DHS is extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with her for so many years," Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said. "Her retirement marks the end of a remarkable career in state service."
During her tenure at the agency, Falkowski directed an evaluation on the use of two-day jail sentences for drunken drivers in Hennepin County and helped found the AIDS Substance Abuse Partnership. She also initiated community-based recovery organizations in Minnesota and the integration of alcohol screening into primary care settings.
Falkowski began state service as a student intern with the Governor's Commission on Crime Prevention and Control in the 1970s. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, she went on to design and direct a study of plea negotiations, sentencing and court delays in Minnesota district courts before joining the Human Services Department in 1983.
In 1997, Falkowski went to work for the Hazelden Foundation in research, public policy and communications capacities before returning to state service in 2007.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482