Woman with local ties named to be new U.S. HHS Secretary

By Hayley M. Cook

June 5, 2014

By Hayley M. Cook


WILLIAMSON - The Senate has officially confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Burwell was confirmed by a vote of 78-17 on Thursday, showcasing an overwhelming majority of support for President Barack Obama’s former budget director .

Burwell is a native of Hinton, and has family residing in the Williamson area.

Among Burwell’s many accomplishments include having degrees from both Harvard and Oxford, serving as staff director for the National Economic Council from 1993 to 1995, serving as chief of staff for Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin from 1995 to 1997, and serving as a director of MetLife and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company since January 2004.

She was president of the Walmart Foundation as well, not to mention a mother to two young children.

The Daily News spoke with Burwell’s uncle, Nick Maroudas, in May about Burwell’s many accomplishments.

“It’s amazing, the kind of life she has had,” said Maroudas. “Our whole family is real proud of her. We stayed close and we communicate with her often. She is the type of person who wanted to make a difference.”

Burwell certainly has a tough job ahead of her, considering the current state of HealthCare.gov, which is facing inaccuracy in insurance payments.

She does, however, have many supporters who firmly believe in her capabilities to succeed.

U.S. Rep Nick Rahall released the following statement about Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s new position:

“The bipartisan mandate Sylvia has received from the United States Senate portrays the breath of fresh air and seasoned management she can continue to bring the federal government to get things done when given the opportunity. Her pragmatism rooted in West Virginia values will continue to serve the nation and make our state prouder still.”

Burwell visits West Virginia quite often, and has spoken many times to students at West Virginia University. Recently, a new scholarship was created in her honor to support WVU political science students.