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'The honor of a lifetime:' NCDHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen stepping down

Dr. Mandy Cohen has become a recognizable face in North Carolina's fight against COVID-19.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, is stepping down from her role with the department, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday. Cooper has appointed Kody Kinsley, current NCDHHS Chief Deputy Secretary for Health to take over Cohen's role beginning January 1. 

"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,” Cooper said. “We are stronger because of her efforts and I am enormously grateful for her service. She has built a remarkable team of talented people including Kody Kinsley, and I know he will continue the strong legacy of competence, effectiveness, and efficiency as he takes over as Secretary.”

Cohen became a recognizable face amid the coronavirus pandemic, helping lead North Carolina's fight against the virus. She's on the state's coronavirus task force and regularly shares updates on coronavirus data for North Carolina. 

She was appointed to her role by Gov. Roy Cooper in 2017. She has a degree from Cornell University and her medical degree from Yale School of Medicine. She later earned a master's degree in public health from Harvard. 

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve this state at such an important moment in history,” Cohen said. “I am grateful for Governor 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. There is much work still to do, and I am so pleased the Governor selected Kody Kinsley to take the baton to run the next leg of this race.”

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A release from Gov. Cooper's office didn't say what Cohen's next steps will be, only that 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." 

Cooper will share a COVID-19 update on Tuesday with other members of the state coronavirus task force. We could hear from Cohen about her decision to step down from her role with the state. You can watch the briefing at 3 p.m. on our website. 

Kinsley, a native of Wilmington, NC, has nearly four years of service at NCDHHS and has played a role in the state's efforts to combat the pandemic, including the state's vaccine distribution efforts. He has served in both the Obama and Trump Administrations as the presidentially appointed Assistant Secretary for Management at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He has a master's degree in public policy from the Goldman School at the University of California at Berkeley. Kinsley will be the first openly gay cabinet Secretary in North Carolina history.