After more than six years of state service as the secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) and as the deputy state health commissioner, Dr. Jennifer Sullivan has notified Gov. Eric Holcomb that she is stepping away from her position for a new role in North Carolina. To ensure a smooth transition, Gov. Holcomb today named Dr. Dan Rusyniak, FSSA’s chief medical officer, as the new secretary, effective Aug. 1.
“Jennifer Sullivan has dedicated herself to improving the social and human needs Hoosiers are faced with every day,” Gov. Holcomb said. “Secretary Sullivan tackled some of the most complex issues our state has ever dealt with and found new innovative ways to deliver improved results. She created a purpose driven work culture that empowers staff, collaborates with experts while leading with courage and creativity. I’ll never be able to say thank you enough for all she has done for health care and social services in Indiana, but I’ll never stop trying. I wish her and her family all the best in this next chapter in their lives.”
Dr. Sullivan, M.D., M.P.H., was appointed FSSA secretary by Gov. Holcomb in January 2017 and has the longest tenure of any secretary in the agency’s 30-year history. Under her leadership, the agency achieved a number of high-profile accomplishments:
- Securing a first-ever 10-year extension of the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) to continue uninterrupted health coverage for more than 572,000 low-income adults;
- Integrating Indiana 211 to better connect Hoosiers with local, state and federal resources;
- Expanding On My Way Pre-K statewide;
- Implementing SNAP delivery and uninterrupted emergency food benefits for children during the COVID pandemic;
- Achieving the lowest infant mortality rate in state history through collaborative programs such as My Healthy Baby OB Navigator;
- Creating the only comprehensive human services state/academic partnership in the country.
During Dr. Sullivan’s time as the deputy state health commissioner, the Indiana Department of Health accomplished a number of achievements:
- Implemented the first needle exchange program in state history;
- Led the Scott County HIV response as the medical incident command;
- Directed the implementation of a statewide bystander naloxone program.
“I am most grateful for the way in which the Holcomb administration has fostered innovation, autonomy and accountability,” Dr. Sullivan said. “I have had every resource needed to make changes based on the priority pillars laid out each year. My voice has been heard and I have grown as a leader, a policy expert and a citizen of this great state.”
Dr. Sullivan has accepted a role at Atrium Health as senior vice president of strategic operations where she will develop and execute a strategy to integrate clinical service lines across health systems and states.
Dr. Rusyniak was critical in leading the statewide COVID-19 long-term care response and is the point person for the state’s efforts to reform Indiana’s long-term care systems.
“Dr. Rusyniak showed his true character and leadership skills on a statewide stage during the pandemic,” Gov. Holcomb said. “He was consistent under pressure and always based his decisions on the overall health and well-being of Hoosiers. “Dr. Dan” will seamlessly step into this new role and continue to serve some of our most vulnerable with that same compassion and steady hand.”
Going beyond his dedication to improving public health care and social services, Dr. Rusyniak continues to practice medicine one day a week at Eskenazi Hospital, which Dr. Sullivan has done throughout her term at Riley Hospital for Children.
Prior to his role at FSSA, Rusyniak was the medical director at the Indiana Poison Control Center and the division chief of medical toxicology. He previously held several positions at IU School of Medicine including vice-chair of faculty affairs in the Department of Emergency Management.
“I am honored by this opportunity and committed to continuing the work of assuring that Hoosiers get the medical and social services they need to reach their greatest emotional, mental and physical well-being,” Dr. Rusyniak said. “I appreciate Gov. Holcomb’s confidence in me and I’m excited to build on the important work started under Secretary Sullivan.”
Dr. Rusyniak earned his medical degree from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and completed his emergency medicine residency and a toxicology fellowship at IU School of Medicine.