Today the Biden Administration announced its latest group of appointments to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The new appointees join tens of thousands of career officials throughout the agency at a time when expertise is critical to tackling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT?
Kristina Schake will serve as HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s counselor for strategic communications. She will lead the department’s public education campaign on pandemic response and vaccines, according to Politico Pulse.
Schake previously served as former first lady Michelle Obama’s communications chief and also had a stint working as a top spokesperson for Instagram.
Israel Igualate was brought on as the deputy speechwriter for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. Igualate previously served as an executive speechwriter for Beccera while he was the Attorney General of California.
Barbara McGarey is the new deputy general counsel. She has over 30 years of legal, policy and management experience within HHS. She previously held leadership positions at the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Rebecca Haffajee, a former University of Michigan public health professor, was tapped to be the principal deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation.
Joining Haffajee in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation is Miranda Lynch, who was selected as deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation.
Before coming to HHS, Lynch was a policy fellow for Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, where she helped guide policy for equitable outcomes for families and children. She is returning to HHS after a prior 19-year stint in various positions.
Former Michigan Deputy Medicaid Director Jonathan Warsh joins the department as a senior policy advisor for COVID-19 response. Leni Hirsch also joined the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response as a special assistant for COVID-19 response.
Cheryl Campbell was chosen to be the principal deputy assistant secretary for administration.
Stephanie Psaki, the former director of Population Council’s GIRL Center, is now a senior advisor on human rights and gender equity for the Office of Global Affairs. She is also the sister of White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Rounding out the list is Trina Dutta, who is now the senior advisor at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Dutta previously spent about eight years at SAMHSA as a public health advisor.
THE LARGER TREND
The Biden Administration has made several rounds of appointments as it works to restore public trust in national health agencies.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s nomination was confirmed last week in a 50-49 vote along party lines, with Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, the only GOP member to vote in favor of confirmation.
Other notable picks include Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Susan Orsega as acting surgeon general and Elizabeth Fowler as director and deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.
Janet Woodcock currently serves as the acting commissioner for the FDA, but a group of former FDA commissioners recently sent a letter to President Biden urging him to name a permanent head.
ON THE RECORD
“The team at HHS is working around the clock to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, expand the affordable health care, and implement President Biden’s transformative American Rescue Plan – which will bring healthcare costs down for millions of American families,” said HHS Chief of Staff Sean McCluskie.
“These appointees, under the leadership of Secretary Xavier Becerra, will continue building a department that embodies the core mission of HHS and honors the trust bestowed in us by the American people.”