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Mandy Cohen, a former North Carolina official, will be the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The White House announced Friday that Dr. Mandy Cohen, a former North Carolina official, will be the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s top federal public health agency. Cohen is an internal medicine physician who also has experience working in state and federal government.

Cohen, 44, succeeds Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who last month announced she was resigning effective June 30. Cohen will take over after the agency has experienced some rough years.  

The 12,000-plus employees of the CDC are charged with protecting Americans from disease outbreaks and other public health threats. The CDC, which is based in Atlanta, is the federal agency viewed as the global leader in disease control and a reliable source of health information. 

President Joe Biden issued a statement on her appointment saying, “Dr. Cohen is one of the nation’s top physicians and health leaders with experience leading large and complex organizations, and a proven track-record protecting Americans’ health and safety.”

Cohen brings to the new role prior experience running a government agency. She was Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services from 2017 until 2022. 

Prior to that, Cohen held health-related jobs at two federal agencies. Cohen started working for the federal government in 2008 at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where she served as deputy director for women’s health services. She later held a series of federal jobs, many of them with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, rising to chief operating officer. 

In 2017, she took a health and human services job in North Carolina. She was the face of her state’s response to the coronavirus during that crisis.

Cohen’s starting date in this new role has not yet been announced and her appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

Raised on Long Island, New York by a nurse practitioner Mom, Cohen received her medical degree from Yale and a master’s in public health from Harvard.

Walensky issued a congratulatory note on her successor’s appointment saying she was “perfectly suited to lead CDC as it moves forward by building on the lessons learned from COVID-19 to create an organization poised to meet public health challenges of the future.”

Biden also touted Cohen’s capacity to work across the aisle saying, “Dr. Cohen has been recognized by leaders from both parties for her ability to find common ground and put complex policy into action. I look forward to working with Dr. Cohen as she leads our nation’s finest scientists and public health experts with integrity and transparency.”

Former Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina was complementary of Cohen saying, “She’s got all the tools and the firsthand experience and knows what has to be done. And she’s got the intelligence to know how to do it. … I’ve seen Mandy firsthand in North Carolina make tough decisions. And I don’t think there was ever a period that I can remember in public health, where there was such a bright spotlight on every health decision that was made in the entire system.” 


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