Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, DHHS secretary, visit the Asheville area and tour Buncombe County’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic at AB Tech in April 2021. Photo courtesy of WLOS

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North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen is stepping down from her position after nearly 5-years on the job, according to Gov. Roy Cooper‘s office Tuesday.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve this state at such an important moment in history,” Cohen said in a news release. “I am grateful for Governor Cooper’s leadership, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished to improve the health and well-being of the state over the last five years.”

Cohen, who was first appointed by Cooper in 2017, has been instrumental in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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 news release.

“We are stronger because of her efforts and I am enormously grateful for her service.

Kody Kinsley, the current NCDHHS Chief Deputy Secretary for Health and lead for COVID operations, has been appointed to succeed Cohen beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

“(Cohen) 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,” Cooper said.

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 has been recognized a national leader for her work at DHHS. In February 2019, Modern Healthcare named Secretary Cohen one of the “Top 25 Women Leaders in Healthcare.” In September 2020, Cohen was awarded the Leadership in Public Health Practice Award from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health for her strong leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic response, including her use of data and ability to communicate with empathy, compassion and transparency.

Cohen is also an Adjunct Professor in Health Policy & Management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.

A graduate of Cornell University, she received her medical degree from Yale School of Medicine and a Master’s in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. She trained in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

WLOS

WLOS ABC 13 is the ABC affiliate based in Asheville, N.C., and covers much of Western North Carolina. Check your local listings for news programming, or visit WLOS.com.