Governor names new health secretary 

    Gov. John Bel Edwards appointed a new health secretary today, Courtney N. Phillips. 

    Phillips, a Louisiana native, and will succeed Rebekah Gee as head of the Louisiana Department of Health. She will officially join the department in April. 

    “It’s an honor to return home and serve the people of this great state as the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health,” Phillips said in a statement today. “The opportunity to lead the organization in which my career began and ignited my passion for service, is one I do not take lightly. It’s a blessing to be able to make a positive difference in someone’s life, and I’m looking forward to working together with Gov. Edwards to improve the health, safety, and well-being for the people of Louisiana.”

    Gee announced her departure from the department in January. Stephen Russo, the executive counsel for the department, has been serving as interim secretary since Jan. 31. 

    Phillips has also served as the executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services and was the CEO of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to those appointments, she spent 12 years at LDH.  

    She holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a master’s of public administration from Louisiana State University, and a Ph.D. in public policy from Southern University in Baton Rouge. 

    In her role with the Texas HHS, Phillips oversaw 40,000 employees and operated a $78.5 billion operating budget and more than 220 programs. Those programs include the creation of Blueprint for a Healthy Texas, a systemwide shift in the department’s culture. She has also worked to reduce maternal mortality—a pressing issue in Louisiana.

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