Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the addition of two new senior positions at the agency June 17 as part of a broader realignment of agency leadership.
HHS will now have a deputy chief of staff for operations and strategy, who will be responsible for externally promoting agency work, and a deputy chief of staff for policy, who will be responsible for leading policy planning and coordination.
Though the position of deputy chief of staff for policy has yet to be filled, Azar announced that current Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Judy Stecker will be promoted to the deputy chief of staff for operations and strategy role after she returns from maternity leave.
“It is vital for every organization, especially one as expansive and important as HHS, to constantly assess how its management structure supports accomplishing its goals. Creating these new roles reflects the lessons learned over the past year and a half at HHS and continues my efforts to help set a bold strategic vision for the department and empower our leaders to deliver on it,” Azar said in a news release.
“Judy was one of my first hires at HHS and has played a vital role in advancing the department’s many priorities. This organizational update will create a unified planning and reporting structure across the department’s leadership, providing new opportunities for coordinated goal-setting and execution as part of our strategic vision.”
Stecker was appointed to lead HHS public affairs in March 2018, just over a month after Azar was sworn in to lead the agency.
The promotion of Stecker, who will simultaneously serve in the new deputy chief of staff position and as assistant secretary for public affairs, comes in the wake of a leadership shuffle at the agency. Earlier this month, Azar announced that Brian Harrison will take over the chief of staff post from his deputy position after Peter Urbanowicz’s departure from the agency.
“This strategic reorganization and expansion of HHS’s leadership structure is the product of my experience working alongside Secretary Azar and will help HHS’s leaders continue delivering the impressive results we have seen over the past year and a half,” Harrison said.
“Judy has been an indispensable partner throughout our time at HHS, and I look forward to working closely with her and other HHS leaders to advance the secretary’s priorities. I am honored by the opportunity Secretary Azar has given me to help set organizational direction, and this update of HHS’s leadership structure reflects his eagerness to engage the department’s best expertise in the most effective ways possible.”
According to the agency news release, the new positions will ensure that the majority of the agency’s operating and staff divisions have a senior adviser as a point of contact within the Office of the Secretary.