Shapiro taps Montco’s Arkoosh to head Pa. Human Services Department

Dr. Val Arkoosh is chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners
Dr. Val Arkoosh
Dr. Val Arkoosh Photo credit Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro has tapped Dr. Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and his former colleague, as the next secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

Arkoosh was first appointed to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in January 2015.

Shapiro served on the same board from 2011 to 2017, until he became state attorney general. Arkoosh kept her board seat and succeeded Shapiro as Montco's board chair.

“She is someone who truly listens with her heart,” Shapiro said live on KYW Newsradio Wednesday morning. “She’s someone who’s extremely capable and a dedicated public servant.”

Arkoosh ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022 but dropped out of the race in February. John Fetterman eventually won both the primary and the Senate seat. She finished third in the 2014 Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat, which is currently held by Rep. Brendan Boyle.

She has served as president of the National Physicians Alliance, working on legislative strategy and policy, and also worked as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine.

Arkoosh performed her residency at Philadelphia’s Jefferson Medical College, now the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, and practiced medicine as a licensed physician for 20 years.

“As a physician and public health advocate, I spent my career fighting for health care access and affordability for families, and I am deeply honored to be able to continue this fight alongside my friend,” Arkoosh said in a statement.

“Working together as Montgomery County Commissioners, I saw Gov.-elect Shapiro’s commitment to enhancing the health and well-being of his constituents firsthand. I look forward to advancing the Gov.-elect’s agenda to ensure vulnerable populations across the Commonwealth have the support they need and every Pennsylvanian has equitable, affordable access to health care in their community.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services oversees everything from Medicaid to children and youth, juvenile justice, and mental health programs.

At the top of Arkoosh’s list is improving services for children, veterans and seniors; improving access to mental health treatment; reducing maternal mortality; and continuing to battle the opioid epidemic.

“The best way to get this work done is to partner with the individuals that are most impacted,” Arkoosh told KYW. “I look forward to hearing what community members know that they need and how we can do that work together.”

Shapiro on Wednesday also announced several other administration appointees: Dr. Debra L. Bogen, secretary of health; Dr. Latika Davis-Jones, secretary of drug and alcohol programs; Jason Kavulich, secretary of aging; and Mike Humphreys, insurance commissioner.

“The health and safety of our communities are of the utmost importance, and I’m proud to nominate tested leaders like Dr. Val Arkoosh, Dr. Debra Bogen, Dr. Latika Davis-Jones, Jason Kavulich, and Mike Humphreys to key cabinet posts in my administration – they are well qualified public servants who are passionate about public health and ready to get to work on day one,” he added in a statement.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images