President Joe Biden has reportedly chosen Mandy Cohen to be America’s next Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In a seminar series at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in May 2022, Cohen spoke about crisis management and collaboration between health officials across different states during the COVID–19 pandemic. She recalled having conversations with health officials from Massachusetts about “whether to allow them to play professional football.”
“She was like, ‘are you gonna let them have professional football?’ And I was like, no,” Cohen said, clearly amused by the interaction. “And she’s like, OK neither are we,” she added, laughing.
The White House announced earlier Thursday that current CDC Director Rochelle Walensky—who had been appointed by Biden earlier this year—would be leaving the organization at the end of June.
“The end of the COVID–19 public health emergency marks a tremendous transition for our country, for public health, and in my tenure as CDC Director,” Walensky wrote in her resignation letter to Biden.
The White House thanked Walensky for her service in a statement. “Dr. Walensky has saved lives with her steadfast and unwavering focus on the health of every American,” Biden said, expressing his gratitude.
To replace Walensky, Biden reportedly chose Cohen, who has prior experience in public health. She most recently served as the North Carolina health secretary and was also the Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the Obama administration.
During the 2022 interview, Cohen noted that collaboration between different states during the pandemic had been largely based on their personal relationships, calling for a more formal structure that covers all governments across the US. If Biden’s decision is officially confirmed, it is likely that Cohen will use her previous experience and will bring her fresh ideas in her new role.
Besides her background in public health, Cohen is also well–known for her sense of humor and ability to lighten up tense situations, which she displayed in the 2022 interview. Cohen’s skills could prove to be invaluable to the CDC as they work to combat the ongoing pandemic.