Health agency announces leadership changes

NEW CASTLE — Incoming Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Molly Magarik announced department-wide leadership changes Wednesday.

The changes include new directors of the divisions of Developmental Disabilities Services and Health Care Quality, with a new chief also to come for the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Molly Magarik, DHSS

Mrs. Magarik, who has been deputy secretary since 2017, is officially replacing Dr. Kara Odom Walker atop the helm of the state’s largest Cabinet agency Friday.

Marissa Catalon, who previously served as deputy director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, has been appointed as the new director, effective July 1. She replaces Marie Nonnenmacher, who is retiring at the end of this month. Leslie Boyd, who previously held the post of chief of administration at the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families, has been appointed the deputy director.

Corinna Getchell, who has been director of the Office of Health Facilities Licensing and Certification in the Division of Health Care Quality, will be appointed that division’s head. Director Yrene Waldron is returning to retirement to spend time with her family.

Melissa Smith, acting deputy director of the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities since November 2018, has been elevated to deputy director. She has previously worked as deputy director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Deborah Talley, who was named acting deputy director of the Division for the Visually Impaired in February, has been promoted to deputy director.

DHSS plans to conduct a national search for a new director for the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. Meantime, Deputy Director Alexis Teitelbaum will serve as acting director. Director Elizabeth Romero will be transitioning to spend more time with her family and continue her work in the health field.

“In addition to these leadership changes, I will name a new deputy secretary soon to help lead our agency during these critical times,” Mrs. Magarik said in a statement. “Thanks to the incredible leadership of our current secretary, Dr. Kara Odom Walker, DHSS has a strategic plan to help guide us as we create more streamlined, efficient services for Delawareans. Over the past several years and during our ongoing COVID-19 response, we have worked to integrate health and social services, and those changes reflect a need to refocus on our 21st-century needs and align our pandemic efforts.”

Dr. Odom Walker is leaving her position to join Nemours’ National Office of Policy and Prevention in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Magarik was confirmed as the next department head last month.

As part of her portfolio of work, Mrs. Magarik has led strategic planning efforts and coordinated with the DHSS Reorganization Committee on key recommendations, which included realigning the organization with greater accountability. These leadership changes are part of initial steps to implement those recommendations. Over the coming months, she also will work to reorganize the department to provide more coordinated and person-centered services for the people of Delaware.

The Department of Health and Social Services, with more than 4,000 employees, is responsible for meeting the health and social service needs of Delawareans by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency and protecting vulnerable populations.

As deputy secretary, Mrs. Magarik directed and managed key priorities for DHSS, including health care financing, payment and delivery system reform; budget administration and management; and early childhood education. She also served as the department’s chief strategy officer and developed and maintained critical partnerships with Delaware Cabinet agency leaders, the Legislature, the federal delegation, advocates and health care system leadership throughout the state.

Before joining DHSS, Mrs. Magarik served as state director for then-Rep. John Carney and political director for Beau Biden’s campaign for attorney general. She also worked as a strategic adviser across nonprofits and government, including as executive director of the Delaware Democratic Party. She is a candidate for a master’s degree in health care delivery science from Dartmouth College and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and women’s studies from the University of Delaware. She and her husband, Josh, have two daughters and live in Middletown.