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Wisconsin state health secretary leaving post

Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake
WI DHS youtube
Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake

Wisconsin's state health secretary who has held the job the past two years, including as the COVID-19 vaccine was first being distributed, is leaving Gov. Tony Evers administration, the governor announced Friday.

Karen Timblerlake is the second Cabinet member to announce since Evers won reelection that they will not be returning. Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole retired last month.

Evers has not named replacements for either post.

Timberlake became the Department of Health Services secretary in January 2021 after her predecessor, Andrea Palm, left for a job in President Joe Biden's administration. Timberlake is among many of Evers' appointees who never received a confirmation vote in the Senate, but that didn't prevent her from doing the job.

Timberlake will leave on Jan. 2, the day before Evers is sworn in to his second term, the governor's office said.

“Karen joined our administration at a critical time during the coronavirus pandemic, bringing with her a wealth of experience and expertise," Evers said in a statement. “We owe her our gratitude for returning to this role during an incredibly challenging time for our state, and there’s no question that she helped us save lives.”

It was the second time Timberlake served as state health secretary. She also held the post under Gov. Jim Doyle for the final two years and eight months of his second term.

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