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(January 22, 2021 3:26 PM) Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer appointed Elizabeth Hertel as Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Hertel currently serves as the Senior Chief Deputy Director for Administration for MDHHS, where she oversees External Relations and Communications, Finance and Administration, Legislative Services, Legal Affairs, Policy & Planning, Strategic Integration, Organizational Services, Workforce Engagement and Community and Faith Engagement.

This afternoon, Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Director Robert Gordon announced his resignation via Twitter: “Today, I am resigning from the Whitmer Administration.  It’s been an honor to serve alongside wonderful colleagues.  I look forward to the next chapter.”

In a statement, the Governor said only that Robert Gordon has resigned from his position, and she has accepted his resignation.

Gordon was not present at the Governor’s press briefing this morning at which the latest MDHHS order was announced.  The Director has been present at all previous briefings.  He was not listed in an alert to media with today’s briefing attendees.

Elizabeth Hertel

“Elizabeth Hertel has dedicated her career to protecting Michiganders’ public health, and she is uniquely prepared to lead MDHHS as we continue working together to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Whitmer. “She has served across multiple administrations from both parties, and knows how to bring people together to get things done. 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. Ending the COVID-19 pandemic is going to take hard work and partnership between state government, businesses, and organizations across the state. I know that Elizabeth is ready and eager to start working with partners everywhere to get it done.” 

“As we work to ramp up distribution of the safe and effective COVID vaccine and end the pandemic, I am eager to work with Governor Whitmer and her administration to keep Michiganders safe and healthy,” said Hertel. “I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the department at this time. Michigan is faced with a crisis unlike any we have seen before, but our aggressive action against this virus is working. Let’s finish the job and end the COVID-19 pandemic once and for all.” 

Hertel joined the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) in 2013 as the senior assistant for Policy and Planning, and in February 2014, was appointed director of Policy and Planning. Following the merger of the Departments of Community Health and Human Services into MDHHS in 2015, Hertel served as senior deputy director for Policy, Planning and Legislative Services. In October 2016, she left that position to serve as director of Michigan Advocacy for Trinity Health and returned to MDHHS and her current position in February 2019. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Grand Valley State University and an MBA at Michigan State University. 

Robert Gordon has served as Director for 2 years.  Gov. Whitmer appointed him to the position effective Jan. 14, 2019.  Previously,  he served as senior vice president of finance and global strategy for the non-profit College Board.  Prior to joining the College Board, Director Gordon served in the U.S. Department of Education as acting assistant secretary at the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. He spent four years at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, including service as acting deputy director.  

No reason for Gordon’s resignation was given by either the Governor or Gordon.  However, in the news release from Whitmer’s office announcing Hertel’s appointment, several quotes about Hertel had been readied for release and were provided:

“Michigan Hospitals have been working around the clock to get more people vaccinated and keep our communities safe. Elizabeth is exactly the partner we need leading the state’s response to this virus, and we are eager to work with closely with her moving forward,” said Michigan Hospital Association CEO Brian Peters. 

“Time and again, Elizabeth Hertel has proven her commitment to protecting the mental and physical health of Michigan residents everywhere” said Willie Brooks, President and CEO of the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN). “She understands the deep challenges that we face when it comes to ensuring access to care, and she is well-equipped to solve them. I am ready to work with her as she leads the state health department not only through the COVID-19 pandemic, but throughout her entire tenure as director.” 

“Our mission at the Michigan Association of Health Plans is to expand high quality, affordable, accessible health care for the citizens of Michigan, and Elizabeth Hertel is exactly the partner we need leading DHHS to get it done,” said Dominick Pallone, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans. “As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the public health challenges we face, we are ready to work with Governor Whitmer, Elizabeth, and leaders across the state to protect Michigan citizens’ public health.” 

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