Vernon Malone

Friend of Education

Mandy Cohen

Dr. Mandy Cohen is an internal medicine physician and a public health expert who has led the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services since January of 2017, when she was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper. She has been lauded for her outstanding leadership and transparency during the COVID crisis. Dr. Cohen has held hundreds of press conferences and interviews to help the public understand the science and data related to the pandemic and how decisions were being made to protect the health and safety of the state.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Secretary Cohen has prioritized getting children back to learning in the classroom, while keeping students, educators, and families safe. In June 2020, under Secretary Cohen’s leadership, NCDHHS developed the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit to help schools and education leaders plan and implement protocols to mitigate risk of COVID-19 in schools. The Toolkit is updated regularly and has been endorsed by the NC State Board of Education. North Carolina schools adhering to these protocols succeeded in limiting the transmission rate of COVID-19 within schools. Additionally, the DHHS distributed PPE to all NC public, charter, and private schools and presents monthly COVID-19 updates to school superintendents, DPI, and local health directors, as well as the NC State Board of Education.

Beyond ongoing COVID response work, Secretary Cohen remains focused on key initiatives, including a nationally recognized Early Childhood Action Plan with ambitious health equity goals and the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina. Placing emphasis on whole-person health, Dr. Cohen launched the country’s first statewide technology platform, NCCARE360, to coordinate whole-person care across healthcare and community-based organizations.

A graduate of Cornell University, Dr. Cohen received her medical degree from Yale School of Medicine and a Master’s in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. She trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Prior to serving as Secretary, Dr. Cohen led the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services out of the crisis as Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff. Secretary Cohen is married to Sam Cohen, Senior Vice President for Health Policy at Curi. They have two daughters, ages 7 and 9.

Mandy Cohen received the Vernon Malone Friend of Education Award from WakeEd Partnership in 2021.

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