Alex M. Azar II (2018-2021)
Alex Michael Azar II was born on June 17, 1967, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and raised in Salisbury, Maryland, where his father was an ophthalmologist. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1988 with bachelor’s degrees in economics and government. He then attended law school at Yale University, graduating in 1991.
After finishing school, Azar clerked for US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and he worked as an associate independent counsel from 1994 to 1996 for the Whitewater Independent Counsel which investigated President Bill Clinton. In 2000, he was one of the team of lawyers that represented George W. Bush during the recount of the contested presidential election in Florida.
When George W. Bush became president, Azar served as the general counsel for the Department of Health and Human Services from 2001 to 2005. He then became deputy secretary for the department in 2005. He left the federal government in 2007 and went to work for Eli Lily and Company, a pharmaceutical company. During his time at Eli Lily, Azar held a variety of senior positions within the company.
President Donald Trump nominated Azar to serve as the 24th Secretary of Health and Human Services in November 2017. The US Senate confirmed him by a vote of 55 to 43 in January 2018. As Secretary, Azar oversaw a department with one of the largest budgets of any federal agency. In the winter of 2020, as the coronavirus began to spread throughout the world, Azar took a public role in representing the administration and its response to the virus. However, as the virus began to take a toll in the United States and President Trump came under fire for downplaying its seriousness, Azar took a less public role; President Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence as head of the coronavirus task force.