Elizabeth Hertel has been appointed the new Michigan Director of Health and Human Services, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday. Hertel will be replacing current MDHHS director Robert Gordon, who announced his resignation from the position without explanation on Friday.

Hertel enters the position with an extensive background working in state government. Prior to the appointment, Hertel was serving as the Senior Chief Administrative Officer at MDHHS, where she oversaw multiple areas of the department, including legislative and legal affairs as well as external relations. From 2013-2016, Hertel worked as a director of policy, planning and legislative affairs for MDHHS.

Hertel said in a Friday press release she is grateful for the opportunity to lead the department during the pandemic.

“Michigan is faced with a crisis unlike any we have seen before, but our aggressive action against this virus is working,” Hertel said. “Let’s finish the job and end the COVID-19 pandemic once and for all.”

Whitmer said in the press release Hertel is well-equipped to lead the department. 

(Hertel) has served across multiple administrations from both parties, and knows how to bring people together to get things done,” Whitmer said in the press release. “In her service to the state, she has proven time and again that she will do everything in her power to ensure the health and safety of Michigan families everywhere.”

Gordon, another experienced government official, led the MDHHS from January 2019 until Friday. He worked as a policy director for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education and an associate director in the Office of Management and Budget during the Obama Administration. 

Gordon released a statement Friday on his personal Twitter account, though his reason for resigning remains unknown. 

Today, I am resigning from the Whitmer Administration,” Gordon tweeted. “It’s been an honor to serve alongside wonderful colleagues. I look forward to the next chapter.”

Hertel takes over the department at a time when Whitmer and her administration plan to expedite COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Whitmer said she anticipates Hertel will be an integral part of the state’s battle to control and eventually end the pandemic.

“Ending the COVID-19 pandemic is going to take hard work and partnership between state government, businesses, and organizations across the state,” Whitmer said. “I know that Elizabeth is ready and eager to start working with partners everywhere to get it done.” 

Daily Staff Reporter Christian Juliano can be reached at julianoc@umich.edu.

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