Cherokee Nation Citizen Selected to Lead Indian Health Service

Mary Smith

Mary Smith

Published March 5, 2016

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA – Cherokee Nation citizen Mary Smith was named this week to lead the federal Indian Health Service.

Smith, who formerly worked as an IHS deputy director, was appointed to the principal deputy role by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell.

Smith, a Chicago native with family ties in Westville, will make top decisions for IHS, the federal agency that funds and provides American Indians health care.

“We are proud of Mary and her dedicated work to improve health care and make it more accessible across Indian Country,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “No issue is more important for tribal nations than quality health care for our people.”

In a statement from IHS, Burwell praised Smith for leading a number of Indian Health Service priorities, including behavioral health and youth initiatives.

“Mary has significant management experience from her time working in federal and state government and in the private sector,” Burwell said. Mary’s expertise on Native American issues and track record of delivering impact for the tribal community will undoubtedly be great assets to IHS as she assumes this new role.”

Smith succeeds Robert McSwain to lead IHS, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. just outside of Washington, D.C.

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