Governor Laura Kelly today announced the departure of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Secretary Lee Norman. KDHE Deputy Secretary Ashley Goss will serve as Acting Secretary until a permanent candidate is appointed. Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Ximena Garcia is Acting State Health Officer and Medicaid Medical Director.

“I want to thank Dr. Lee Norman for his service to the people of Kansas these last three years, and particularly for his leadership and his tireless efforts to fight this unprecedented pandemic,” Governor Kelly said. “From the first confirmed case until today, Dr. Norman has played a vital role within this administration to provide guidance and help steer our state’s response to the virus. His and his team’s work to keep Kansans safe during this once-in-a-century public health crisis has cemented his place as the most consequential Secretary of Health and Environment in Kansas history.”

Dr. Lee Norman has served as the KDHE Secretary since Governor Kelly took office in 2019. Under his leadership KDHE has spearheaded Kansas’ response to COVID-19 including the state’s Unified Testing Strategy, the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine that has been administered to more than 1.7 million Kansans, and a robust, statewide vaccine hesitancy campaign. In addition to leading KDHE’s COVID-19 response, Dr. Norman oversees the agency’s three divisions, including Health, Environment and Healthcare Finance, which includes the Medicaid program (KanCare).

“I want to thank Governor Kelly for the privilege of serving the people of Kansas during this unique, challenging, and important moment in our state’s history,” Dr. Norman said. “I could not be more proud of each and every staff member at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. For the last two years they have gone above and beyond facing unimaginable circumstances to create and execute the framework of the Kansas’ COVID-19 response strategy. While leaving was not an easy decision, I have no doubt that the leadership will maintain a seamless continuity of operations as the agency continues its transition from crisis response to steady state.”

Before joining the Office of Governor Laura Kelly, Norman had a distinguished career in the United States Air Force as a family physician, flight surgeon, and combat medicine instructor. Dr. Norman has served as a chief medical officer for over 26 years, most recently at the University of Kansas Health System and before that the Swedish Health System in Seattle, beginning in 1991.