A longtime Kentuckian with experience running state and national organizations, including a turn as a senior staffer to President Bill Clinton, will serve as the new Secretary for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Gov. Steve Beshear announced Thursday that Audrey Tayse Haynes will begin her new role as secretary on April 16. “Audrey brings a dynamic mix of large-scale organization management, policy development, and government experience to this position, and I’m very pleased that she is bringing those talents back to us in Kentucky,” Beshear said in a statement about Haynes' appointment.
“This Cabinet is a complex organization, with a broad range of programs that serve tens of thousands of our most vulnerable Kentuckians. Audrey has the right skills and resources to make sure our citizens continue to get the care and services they need.”
Sec. Haynes brings more than 25 years of experience in leadership and management of organizations to CHFS. Her prior positions include ten years as the senior vice president and chief government affairs officer of YMCA of the USA, as well as chief of staff to Tipper Gore during Vice President Al Gore’s second term. Haynes also served on President Bill Clinton’s senior staff as the director of the White House Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach.
Haynes, who replaces Janie Miller who resigned the post, has held numerous positions in Kentucky government, including an appointment by Gov. Paul Patton to reopen the state’s policy office in Washington, D.C. and as a director of human resource development in the Department of Mental Health in the former Cabinet for Human Resources.
“I am excited to be back in Kentucky full time, and I am honored to be working in this Cabinet,” Haynes said in a press release. “CHFS impacts every single Kentuckian – whether through birth certificates, health departments, restaurant inspections or services to the elderly. I feel that I am returning to my roots of social work and mental health services, and I’m pleased to be part of a Cabinet that provides such critical services to Kentuckians.”
Haynes holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Kentucky and a bachelor’s degree in social work from Spalding University in Louisville. She began her career in the Somerset area, working in the community mental health system as an alcohol and drug counselor. She later worked in the Cabinet for Human Resources as the director of human resource development, alongside the commissioner of mental health. Haynes was also appointed as executive director of the Kentucky Literacy Commission by Gov. Wallace Wilkinson.
“From my experience working with Audrey Haynes, I know her to be a consummate professional,” Crit Luallen, who worked with Haynes in the Patton administration, said. “She will bring strong management skills, as well as national leadership experience to this critical cabinet post.”
In her most recent position at YMCA of the USA, Haynes has worked to implement organization-wide programs to improve health outcomes for children and adults. Nationally, 2,700 YMCAs serve 21 million people annually.
Haynes worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with particular focus on implementing chronic disease prevention programs across the country. She also led the creation and launch of a new community leadership program (Pioneering Healthier Communities) that convenes public, private and nonprofit leaders to focus efforts on removing barriers to healthier living.
Last fall, CHFS transitioned 560,000 Medicaid recipients to a managed care program in less than nine months. Today, three new managed care providers are operating in the state. The move is projected to save taxpayers $1.3 billion over three years, including $375 million in General Funds.
Acting Secretary Eric Friedlander, who has served in a variety of roles at the Cabinet, will remain at CHFS as deputy secretary.