Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Tommy G. Thompson (2001–2005): Secretary of Health and Human Services

Tommy G. Thompson was born in 1941 in Elroy, Wisconsin. He earned a B.S. in 1963 and a J.D. in 1966, both from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. From 1966 to 1987, Thompson practiced law and served on the Wisconsin state assembly before being elected governor of Wisconsin, a post he held from 1987 to 2001.

During his unprecedented fourteen years as governor, Thompson gained a national reputation for his leadership on welfare reform; Wisconsin’s welfare-to-work legislation ultimately served as a model for national welfare reform.

President George W. Bush tapped Republican Tommy G. Thompson to serve as his secretary for health and human services in 2001.

Thompson announced his resignation after the 2004 election. Bush nominated the chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, Mike Leavitt, to replace Thompson.