Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon | Casey Hull
Former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Robert Gordon has been nominated by President Joe Biden for a key federal health post.
The White House on Wednesday evening announced his nomination for assistant secretary for financial resources at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). After being elected in November, Biden announced Gordon as one of the volunteer leads on his HHS transition team.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tapped Gordon, a former Obama administration official, to lead DHHS in early 2019. He led the department through the COVID-19 crisis and ordered strong health restrictions during the fall 2020 surge before resigning on Jan. 22. Weeks later, it was made public that the former director’s separation agreement included a $155,000 severance and a confidentiality clause, which Republicans criticized. After Gordon’s resignation, Whitmer appointed Elizabeth Hertel, who previously served as DHHS senior chief deputy director for administration, to lead the department.
Gordon told a Michigan legislative panel in April that his abrupt resignation came after Whitmer said “she wanted to go in a different direction.”
He left Michigan for Washington, D.C., and is currently senior counselor at the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities and senior advisor for Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan.
A Yale Law School graduate, Gordon worked for the Legal Aid Society of New York and New York public school system. He joined the President Barack Obama administration at the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. He developed programs related to maternal and infant home visiting, teen pregnancy prevention and education investment. He also oversaw the Administration for Children and Families and the Administration on Aging at the Department of Health and Human Services.
“It was incredibly exciting to work in the Obama administration,” Gordon told the Advance in a May 2019 interview. “I was there from the beginning, working for a new, amazing, historic president. And also working at a time of deep crisis for the American economy. … It was a very smart, committed group of people working at a difficult time, it was an honor,” Gordon said.
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