NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen resigning, Cooper confirms

N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services secretary Mandy Cohen briefs media from the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. Photo via N.C. Dept. of Public Safety

RALEIGH –Gov. Roy Cooper confirmed reports that that N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen will resign from her position at the health agency after five years in the job.

Cohen, who came to the state from the Obama-era Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), was the most visible member of Gov. Roy Cooper’s cabinet since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.


“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,” said Gov. Cooper. “We are stronger because of her efforts and I am enormously grateful for her service.”

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve this state at such an important moment in history,” said Cohen. “I am grateful for Gov. 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.”

In addition to her COVID response efforts, Cohen launched the Medicaid managed care transformation.

Not mentioned in the email is Cohen’s next move or whether she may have been forced out by Cooper. The emailed statement only says she “plans to spend more time with her family while exploring new opportunities to carry on her work improving the health and well-being of communities.”

During the Biden presidential transition, Cohen was seen as a potential pick by the 46th President to a job at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Kody H. Kinsley, a native of Wilmington, currently serves as the Chief Deputy Secretary for Health at NCDHHS and Operations Lead for NC’s COVID-19 pandemic response and was named interim secretary by the governor. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Brevard College in Brevard, NC and a Master of Public Policy from the Goldman School at the University of California at Berkeley.

Kinsley will take over Jan. 1, 2022, and will be the first openly gay cabinet Secretary in North Carolina history, according to Gov. Cooper’s office.