Policy Seminar with PA DHS Secretary Valerie A. Arkoosh, MD, MPH
Open to Penn Affiliates
Co-sponsored with PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Valerie A. Arkoosh, MD, MPH, was appointed to lead the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services by Governor Josh Shapiro on January 17, 2023. She completed the nomination process and took office as Secretary on June 29, 2023.
Prior to this role, Secretary Arkoosh served on the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners since January 2015, when she was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Commission. Arkoosh won election to a full four-year term in November 2015 and served as Commission Vice Chair until her election as Commission Chair in November 2016. She was the first woman ever to serve in this role. Arkoosh was re-elected in November 2019 and unanimously chosen by her colleagues to again serve as Chair in January 2020. Montgomery County is the third most populous county in Pennsylvania with over 856,000 residents. The three-member Board of Commissioners oversees a budget of more than $500 million and directs more than 2,800 employees charged with administering and overseeing county functions, including human services.
As Commission Chair, Secretary Arkoosh was committed to strengthening services for children, veterans, and seniors. She led the efforts to eliminate street homelessness of veterans and streamline delivery of human services. Recognizing the need for a strong, supported workforce in executing these goals, she instituted a $15 minimum wage and gender-neutral paid parental leave for Montgomery County employees. Drawing on her background as a physician, she oversaw a multi-pronged, integrated response to the opioid overdose epidemic, including issuing a standing order in 2015 to enable participating pharmacies in Montgomery County to dispense the overdose antidote naloxone at the request of any member of the public.
As a physician and public health professional, Secretary Arkoosh was at the center of Montgomery County’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, leading a data- and science-driven approach to the unprecedented challenge. Arkoosh’s leadership was praised during the county’s response, especially her transparency and public communication throughout the pandemic. Secretary Arkoosh is also a staunch advocate for maternal health and reproductive rights, and previously served on the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee.
Upon obtaining her Master of Public Health in 2007, Arkoosh became deeply engaged in the national effort to achieve comprehensive health care reform. She led the National Physicians Alliance, a national non-profit organization of physicians, who, putting their patients before profits, joined a broad-based nation-wide coalition for reform. During this time, she developed policy and legislative strategy, and promoted public engagement in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and throughout the country. Dr. Arkoosh maintains comprehensive knowledge of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its impact on individuals and the health care system.
Prior to stepping into public service, Secretary Arkoosh was Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology and Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. Arkoosh is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine and received a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She performed her residency at Jefferson Medical College in Anesthesiology with a special focus in Obstetrics. She has an undergraduate degree in economics from Northwestern University.
Secretary Arkoosh lives in Springfield Township, Montgomery County, with her husband and their three children.