Governor Newsom Appoints Pediatrician and Renowned Public Health Expert to Lead Health and Human Services Agency


SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today appointed practicing pediatrician and director of health and social impact for Los Angeles County Mark Ghaly as his secretary for the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS). As both a physician and an expert in public health, Ghaly brings a deep knowledge and understanding of how individual and community health outcomes intersect with policy and law on issues like whole-person care, mental health and stage of life care. He will help lead the administration’s efforts to advance the Governor’s health care agenda, including proposals to lower prescription drug costs, provide coverage to young undocumented adults through Medi-Cal, and help put California on a path toward single-payer health care.

“At a time when the Trump Administration is systematically dismantling health care protections for American families, California is moving forward on ideas to cover more people and make health care more affordable,” said Governor Newsom. “Mark’s experience, passion and vision will be instrumental in driving California to a healthier future.”

Mark Ghaly, 44, of South Pasadena, has served as director of health and social impact for Los Angeles County since 2018. He was deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services overseeing community health and integrated programs from 2011 to 2018 and medical director for the Southeast Health Center, a San Francisco Department of Public Health clinic, from 2006 to 2011. Ghaly earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Public Health degree in health policy from the Harvard School of Public Health. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $209,943. Ghaly is a Democrat.

In his first act as Governor, Governor Newsom announced a series of major, first-in-the-nation executive actions and budget proposals focused on lowering costs and expanding access.

The Governor also announced the reappointment of Michelle Baass, 44, of Sacramento, as undersecretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, where she has served as undersecretary since 2018 and was deputy secretary of the Office of Program and Fiscal Affairs from 2017 to 2018. Baass served as deputy director for the California State Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review from 2016 to 2017, where she was principal consultant from 2012 to 2016. She was deputy director for the California State Senate Office of Research from 2011 to 2012, where she was principal consultant from 2008 to 2011. Baass was a senior fiscal and policy analyst at the California Legislative Analyst’s Office from 2004 to 2008 and a manager and consultant for Accenture from 1996 to 2004. Baass earned a Master of Public Policy and Administration degree from California State University, Sacramento. Baass was confirmed by the California State Senate as undersecretary at the California Health and Human Services Agency in 2018 and the compensation is $183,084. Baass is a Democrat.

The California Health and Human Services Agency oversees 12 departments and four offices that provide a range of health care services, social services, mental health services, alcohol and drug services, income assistance, and public health services to Californians from all walks of life. More than 33,000 people work for departments in CHHS at state headquarters in Sacramento, regional offices throughout the state, state institutions and residential facilities serving the mentally ill and people with developmental disabilities.