Cohen steps down as North Carolina health secretary

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North Carolina's leading public figure in the state's fight against COVID-19 will step down after nearly five years in the position, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) secretary, will be replaced by her deputy, Kody Kinsley, beginning Jan. 1.

“Mandy Cohen has shown extraordinary leadership during her tenure and she has worked every day during this pandemic to help keep North Carolinians healthy and safe,” Cooper said in a statement. “We are stronger because of her efforts and I am enormously grateful for her service. She has built a remarkable team of talented people, including Kody Kinsley, and I know he will continue the strong legacy of competence, effectiveness and efficiency as he takes over as secretary.”

As the top health official in the state, Cohen was tasked with creating response plans for the unprecedented outbreak and the rollout of the state's Medicaid managed care program. She was appointed by Cooper in 2017 and has an extensive resume that includes being chief operating officer and chief of staff at the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Cohen said Tuesday she plans to spend more time with her family and seek new opportunities in health improvement.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve this state at such an important moment in history,” Cohen said in a statement. “There is much work still to do, and I am so pleased the governor selected Kody Kinsley to take the baton to run the next leg of this race.”

Kinsley has been working with the NCDHHS for four years. Before his tenure at the NCDHHS, Kinsley was the assistant secretary for management at the U.S. Department of the Treasury during the Obama and Trump administrations. He has also held roles at the White House and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A number of legislators reacted to Cohen's departure Tuesday, thanking her for her service and coordination while leading the public health agency.

“Secretary Cohen's leadership throughout her tenure at the DHHS has helped our state navigate turbulent times,” Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. “She made herself available to legislators to answer questions and kept us informed about issues facing the department. She was also instrumental in successfully implementing Medicaid transformation. I want to thank her for her service to the state and wish her well in her future endeavors.”





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