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Secretaries of Health and Human Services

Department of Health and Human Services LogoThe Department of Health and Human Services is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. The secretary's responsibilities in the pre- and post-1979 departments are similar. The HEW secretary directed the department, was appointed by the president with the Senate's approval and was directly responsible to him. An undersecretary and several assistant secretaries worked with the department head. Today's HHS secretary is assisted by secretaries for administration and management, budget, technology and finance, legislation, public affairs, planning and evaluation, among heads of other offices.

Term of Service
Secretary Home State Administration
Department of Health, Education and Welfare
1953 - 1955
Oveta Culp Hobby Texas Eisenhower
1955 - 1958
Marion B. Folsom New York Eisenhower
1958 - 1961
Arthur S. Flemming Ohio Eisenhower
1961 - 1962
Abraham A. Ribicoff Connecticut Kennedy
1962 - 1963
Anthony J. Celebreeze Ohio Kennedy
1963 - 1965
L.B. Johnson
1965 - 1968
John W. Gardner New York L.B. Johnson
1968 - 1969
Wilbur J. Cohen Michigan L.B. Johnson
1969 - 1970
Robert H. Finch California Nixon
1970 - 1973
Elliot L. Richardson Massachusetts Nixon
1973 - 1974
Caspar W. Weinberger California Nixon
1974 - 1975
1975 - 1977
Forrest D. Matthews Alabama Ford
1977 - 1979
Joseph A. Califano Jr. Washington, D.C. Carter
Patricia Roberts Harris Washington, D.C. Carter
Department of Health and Human Services
1979 - 1981
Patricia Roberts Harris Washington, D.C. Carter
1981 - 1983
Richard S. Schwelker Pennsylvania Reagan
1983 - 1985
Margaret M. Heckler Massachusetts Reagan
1985 - 1989
Otis R. Bowen Indiana Reagan
1989 - 1993
Louis W. Sullivan Georgia G.H.W. Bush
1993 - 2001
Donna E. Shalala Wisconsin Clinton
2001 -
Tommy G. Thompson Wisconsin G.W. Bush

See cabinet officers sorted by administration.