U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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Mary K. Wakefield

​HHS Acting Deputy Secretary
HHS Office of the Secretary

Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., serves as the Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Prior to becoming Acting Deputy Secretary, Dr. Wakefield was administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) from 2009 to 2015. HRSA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to strengthen the health care workforce, build healthy communities, increase health equity, and provide health care and support services to people who are geographically isolated, economically or medically vulnerable, or live in a health professional shortage area.

Dr. Wakefield joined HRSA from the University of North Dakota (UND), where she was associate dean for rural health at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

In the 1990s, she served as chief of staff to two North Dakota senators: Kent Conrad (D) and Quentin Burdick (D).

She also has served as director of the Center for Health Policy, Research and Ethics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and worked on site as a consultant to the World Health Organization's Global Programme on AIDS in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr. Wakefield is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM).  She served on the IOM committee that produced the landmark reports To Err is Human and Crossing the Quality Chasm. She also co-chaired the IOM committee that produced the report Health Professions Education and chaired the committee that produced the report Quality through Collaboration: Health Care in Rural America.

In addition, she has served on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, as chair of the National Advisory Council for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, as a member of President Clinton's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, and as a member of the National Advisory Committee to HRSA's Office of Rural Health Policy.

Dr. Wakefield is a native of Devils Lake, N.D. She has a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Mary in Bismarck and master's and doctoral degrees in nursing from the University of Texas at Austin.

Susannah Fox, Chief Technology Officer
Natalie Pojman, Acting Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary

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Content last reviewed on September 4, 2015