Whitmer names testing exec, ex-Obama official to lead DHHS

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A former Obama administration official who is an executive with the nonprofit that administers the SAT will lead the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which is the state’s largest agency.

Robert Gordon was named director of the 14,400-employee department on Thursday by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who took office last week. The sprawling agency, which accounts for nearly 45 percent of the $56 billion state budget, handles welfare, food assistance, Medicaid, child protection and other services.

Gordon, an education policy expert, has been senior vice president of finance and global strategy at The College Board for nearly four years. He previously held jobs in the federal Department of Education and the Office of Management and Budget during Barack Obama’s presidency.

He also clerked for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was a policy aide to former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, worked on Democrat John Kerry’s presidential campaign, was a fellow at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, and led an overhaul of New York City Department of Education’s system for allocating funding. He has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Yale University.

“He brings a unique set of skills and experiences that will lead the Department of Health and Human Services to drive real results that help hardworking families,” Whitmer said in a statement. She introduced Gordon, one of her final Cabinet appointees, to DHHS employees in Lansing on Thursday.

He will start Monday and make $175,000 a year, the same as former director Nick Lyon, whom former Gov. Rick Snyder kept at the helm despite Lyon facing manslaughter and other charges related to Flint’s water crisis. Gordon will take over for acting director Farah Hanley, whom Whitmer appointed on an interim basis while filling out her Cabinet.

Gordon’s appointment will stand unless it is rejected within 60 days by the Republican-led Senate.

“I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work building a Michigan where everyone has access to the care they need and can make healthy decisions for themselves and their families,” Gordon said in a statement. “Let’s go.”

As director, Gordon would be involved in implementing Michigan’s 2018 law adding work and job-related requirements to its Medicaid expansion program in 2020. The Trump administration approved the contentious Republican-backed move last month.

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