Baker Names New Health And Human Services Chief

Governor-elect Charlie Baker has tapped former mental health commissioner Marylou Sudders to lead his administration's health and human services secretariat, the largest executive agency in state government with domain over everything from Medicaid to child welfare and public health, according to a Baker advisor.

Sudders, an associate professor of health and mental health at Boston College's Graduate School of Social Work, was recruited by Baker to state government in the mid-1990s and served as commissioner of mental health under Republican Govs. William Weld, Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift from 1996 until 2003. She held a similar position in New Hampshire.

Marylou Sudders (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Marylou Sudders (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Baker is expected to formally announce Sudders appointment Friday.

Sudders now sits on the Health Policy Commission, appointed by Attorney General Martha Coakley to the panel established in 2012 to spearhead the state's efforts to control health care cost growth and review hospital mergers.

She has also worked as president and CEO of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

In turning to Sudders, Baker has tapped the first woman for his Cabinet after naming three men for energy and environment, economic development and chief of staff posts.

The announcement comes as Baker returns to Massachusetts Friday after a week-long vacation with his wife that included a two-day layover in Florida where Baker attended the Republican Governors Association meetings.

Baker, himself, worked as secretary of health and human services under Gov. Weld for a couple of years before he took charge of the executive office of administration and finance, overseeing state budgets.

The governor-elect has yet to name his finance secretary.

During her time in state government, Sudders played a role in passage of significant mental health parity and child protection law reforms.


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