The United States Secretary of Health and Human Services is the head of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, concerned with health matters. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet.
In 1979, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was split into the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education. The final Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare was Patricia Roberts Harris, who was also the first Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The duties of the secretary revolve around human conditions and concerns in the United States. This includes advising the President on matters of health, welfare, and income security programs. It strives to administer the department of Health and Human Services to carry out approved programs and make the public aware of the objectives of the department. After the attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks, the position has held a unique significance in the War on Terrorism. Upon his departure, Tommy Thompson, the first secretary since the installation of the war on terrorism remarked, "I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do..." Scholars concur, arguing that an attack on food particularly milk could effect approximately 100,000 people. This leaves a large amount of responsibility to the position in the age of protecting humans in all ways possible.
|No.||Name||Portrait||Took Office||Left Office||President served under||Notable for|
|1||Patricia Roberts Harris||August 3 1979||January 20 1981||Jimmy Carter||The first Secretary of Health and Human Services and first African-American woman to hold a cabinet position|
|2||Richard Schultz Schweiker||January 22 1981||February 3 1983||Ronald Reagan|
|3||Margaret Mary O'Shaughnessy Heckler||March 9 1983||December 13 1985||Ronald Reagan|
|4||Otis Ray Bowen||December 13 1985||January 20 1989||Ronald Reagan||The first physician to become Secretary of Health and Human Services|
|5||Louis Wade Sullivan||March 1 1989||January 20 1993||George H. W. Bush|
|6||Donna Edna Shalala||January 22 1993||January 20 2001||Bill Clinton|
|7||Tommy George Thompson||February 2 2001||January 26 2005||George W. Bush||The first Secretary of Health and Human Services since the beginning of the War on Terrorism|
|8||Michael Okerlund Leavitt||January 26 2005||Present||George W. Bush|