HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett today announced that Secretary of Public Welfare Gary D. Alexander has resigned his cabinet post, saying his last day will be Feb. 15.
Alexander is leaving state government to pursue private-sector opportunities and spend more time with his wife and children who reside in Rhode Island.
As secretary, he holds the top post in the Department of Public Welfare, which employs approximately 17,000 workers and has a budget of more than $26 billion in state and federal dollars. The department provides services and supports approximately 2.2 million low-income, elderly and disabled Pennsylvanians.
“Secretary Alexander has been a tremendous asset in prioritizing our funding and eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in our welfare programs,” Corbett said. “He has saved millions of dollars in making our programs more efficient and effective, while still allowing us to deliver core services to those who need it most in Pennsylvania.”
Alexander is credited with creating and implementing a national model for eradicating fraud, waste and abuse. Titled the “Enterprise-wide Program Integrity Initiative,” or EWPI, the program won a 2012 Innovation Award from the Council of State Governments.
Alexander also helped establish a county block grant program, which gives counties the flexibility to direct funding where it is most needed in local communities; implemented an expansion of the state’s highly successful HealthChoices program to the entire Commonwealth; and enhanced services for intellectually and physically disabled individuals.
“As he departs for this next chapter in life and professional service, I thank Gary for his time and the commitment he gave to Pennsylvania and its residents,” Corbett continued.
Alexander says his decision to resign was not easy.
“I am grateful to Governor Corbett for giving me the opportunity to serve the commonwealth during his tenure,” Alexander said. “I have been blessed to have been surrounded by a host of remarkable employees at DPW. Their professionalism and commitment to the tasks at hand allowed us to realize great achievements.”
“We’ve accomplished a great deal in Pennsylvania, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my tenure here, but now is the perfect time to pursue new opportunities and rejoin my young family in Rhode Island full-time,” Alexander said.
A Boston native, Alexander received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Northeastern University and his juris doctorate from Suffolk University School of Law, both in Boston. He is an ordained deacon in the Armenian Orthodox Church.
Bev Mackereth , who has served as the department’s deputy secretary for the Office of Children, Youth and Families since November 2011, will serve as acting secretary.
A former state representative, Mackereth has spent her professional career in public service, and has significant experience in health and human services. Throughout her career, she has served as executive director of York County Human Services, executive director of the Healthy York County Coalition with WellSpan Health System, and was deputy director of the Governor’s Community Partnership for Safe Children under Gov. Tom Ridge .