Former NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen is Biden's pick to lead CDC: Washington Post

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Thursday, June 1, 2023
Former NCDHHS Secretary Cohen to lead CDC: Washington Post
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Former North Carolina health secretary Mandy Cohen could be the next leader of the CDC, according to the Washington Post.

WASHINGTON (WTVD) -- Former North Carolina Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen will be the person President Joe Biden picks to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the Washington Post.

The Post cited three anonymous sources with direct knowledge of the pending announcement.

ABC11 is working to independently confirm the report.

Gov. Roy Cooper issued the following statement in response to the Washington Post report:

"Mandy Cohen used a steady hand to help my administration lead North Carolina through the pandemic to be among the states with the lowest deaths and job losses per capita. She is a brilliant, talented and battle tested leader who would be a fantastic CDC Director."

Current CDC Director Rochelle Walensky's last day is June 30.

Cohen stepped down from her position as North Carolina's Secretary of Health and Human Services in 2021 after nearly five years on the job. She helped lead North Carolina through the COVID-19 pandemic and was a public face and spokeswoman for health policy out of Gov. Roy Cooper's administration.

She was named 2020's "Tar Heel of the Year" by ABC11's news partner, the Raleigh News & Observer.

In a 2021 interview with ABC11, Cohen said, "It's nice to be recognized, particularly as 'The Three W's Lady,'" referring to her near-daily emphasis on wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart and washing hands as key efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. "But when I go home at the end of the day, I have two daughters and they could care less if I'm on TV or not."

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is among the largest agencies in state government and, in particular, the governor's administration. As Secretary, Cohen was the de facto CEO of an organization with 17,000 employees and an annual budget of $20 billion. The department's programs affect millions of North Carolinians, NC Medicaid, Public Health, Mental Health/IDD/SUD, State Operated Hospitals and Facilities, Economic Services, Adult and Child Services, Early Childhood Education, Employment Services, and Health Services Regulation.

Before coming to North Carolina, Cohen was appointed by President Barack Obama to be the Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and was a key figure in managing several provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Cohen's work in North Carolina also garnered national recognition, as there was wide speculation that Cohen was a finalist for a position in the Biden administration. Also in 2020, Cohen won the Leadership in Public Health Practice Award from Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health for her role in the state's pandemic response.

Kody Kinsley succeeded Cohen as North Carolina Health Secretary.

NOTE: Video is from a previous report.