Who:Mary Wakefield, 60
New role: Acting deputy HHS secretary. Wakefield will replace Bill Corr in April, when he is expected to leave the department. The new role will make Wakefield second in command in the department and one of the highest-ranking government officials with a nursing background.
Current role: For six years she's been administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, an HHS agency that works to improve healthcare access through grants and strengthening the healthcare workforce. Previously, she was associate dean for rural health at the University of North Dakota.
Improving access: “Our work has enabled HRSA grantees to provide high-quality healthcare to millions of people, to train the next generation of healthcare providers, and to strengthen the nation's healthcare safety net,” Wakefield said in a message to HRSA staff.
A rural-health advocate: As a former nurse and North Dakota native, Wakefield has frequently voiced the need for improvements in rural healthcare. Under her leadership, HRSA signed an agreement with the U.S. Labor Department in 2012 to support the training of rural health IT professionals at community colleges and technical schools.