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Biden nominating Wisconsin Health Services head Palm to be HHS Deputy Secretary

Palm heads to Washington on Wednesday
DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm address media on Dec. 3, 2020.
DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm address media on Dec. 3, 2020.(WSAW)
Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 6:45 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The head of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services is heading to Washington later this week to take over the number two position with the with the federal health agency.

DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm has been nominated to serve as the deputy secretary in the Dept. of Health and Human Services, Gov. Tony Evers’ office announced early Monday morning. She is expected to depart for Washington on Wednesday, the same day President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.

Gov. Tony Evers congratulated Palm on her new role in the Biden administration, describing her effort at the head of Wisconsin’s health department during the coronavirus pandemic as “extraordinary.”

“I know she will continue to serve our country just as she has our state—with empathy, kindness, and tenacity. I wish her our very best as she leaves us to take this new opportunity,” he continued.

Evers also immediately picked Palm’s replacement at DHS, tapping someone with experience leading the agency through a pandemic.

The governor’s office announced Karen Timberlake, who served as DHS secretary under Gov. Jim Doyle, will serve as interim secretary. Timberlake was in charge of the department during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. She is expected to take over next Monday.

“Karen Timberlake brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in public health, healthcare, and healthcare systems that will be critical as we continue distributing vaccines quickly in our fight against this virus,” Gov. Evers said.

Karen Timberlake has been selected as interim secretary of Wisconsin's Dept. of Health Services.
Karen Timberlake has been selected as interim secretary of Wisconsin's Dept. of Health Services.(Gov. Tony Evers Office)

In addition to service as DHS secretary, Timberlake was most recently a partner with Michael Best Strategies, Gov. Evers’ office said. She has also held the Director position at the University of Wisconsin’s Public Health Institute and been an associated professor with the university.

“This pandemic has meant unprecedented challenges for our state, but I’m looking forward to returning to the Department of Health Services and serving with Gov. Evers and his administration,” Timberlake said.

Timberlake added her immediate priorities will be advocating for the state to get its “fair share of vaccines from the federal government,” and distributing them as quickly as possible.

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