Mary Wakefield

Mary Wakefield, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, speaks during APHA’s 142nd Annual Meeting and Exposition in New Orleans in 2014. Photo courtesy EZ Event Photography

Mary Wakefield, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, has been named acting deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She becomes second in command at the agency.

In a letter to colleagues announcing the move, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell wrote, “She has ably led HRSA and its 1,800 employees through a time of marked transformation. She has improved access to health for millions of patients, strengthening America’s health care workforce, and modernized HRSA’s organizational infrastructure.”

A nurse by training and a longtime rural health advocate, Wakefield has led HRSA since 2009.

Burwell noted that Wakefield becomes one of the highest ranking nurses in the federal government.

“Mary has been an extraordinary partner in the quest for better health for all Americans,” said Georges Benjamin, APHA executive director. “We are thrilled for her as a nurse and as an advocate for improving health for vulnerable populations that she will continue to help guide the important work before us.”

Wakefield takes over the post in the wake of departing deputy secretary Bill Corr. Jim Macrae, who now serves as associate administrator for primary health care, will become acting HRSA administrator.

To read a recent Q&A with Mary Wakefield, visit the February 2015 issue of The Nation’s Health.