Dr. Mandy Cohen was tapped to lead the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services — which has 16,000 employees and an annual budget of $20 billion — in 2017. Since then, her top priorities have included combating the opioid crisis, building a stronger and more efficient Medicaid program and improving early childhood education and health.

Shortly after she was named secretary, Cohen sent a letter to North Carolina doctors asking that they implement measures to prevent patient abuse of prescription drugs. In its wake, her department was able to secure $90 million in funding for the state’s opioid prevention plan.

Cohen also enacted a mentoring program to help place female employees in higher-impact positions. Women make up nearly 50% of her leadership team.

Cohen studied medicine at Yale and received a master’s in public health at Harvard while training in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Prior to her appointment, she was COO and chief of staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Before that, she served as the principal deputy director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at CMS.