New IHS Principle Deputy Director, Mary Smith

Date Posted: March 9, 2016

On March 1, 2016 Secretary Burwell announced Mary Smith’s assumption of the IHS Principle Deputy Director position, reporting that Robert McSwain requested to serve in another capacity so as to spend more time with his family. The Alaska Native Health Board congratulates Mary Smith on her new role and expressed our appreciation for Mr. McSwain for his service.

Secretary Sylvia M Burwell’s announcement:


I am pleased to announce that IHS Deputy Director Mary Smith, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, has agreed to serve as the Principal Deputy of the Indian Health Service and will be delegated the responsibilities of the Director, effective today. As such, she will report directly to the Secretary and be responsible for the day to day operations of the IHS as well as our priority IHS initiatives. She will also work directly with Acting Deputy Secretary Mary Wakefield on the Executive Council on Quality focused on our critical work related to the Great Plains Area and making sustainable improvements for direct service tribes throughout Indian country.

Since joining IHS in October 2015, Mary has led a number of key agency priorities including providing leadership on the progress we have made in behavioral health, native youth initiatives, such as Generation Indigenous, and serving as the primary IHS liaison to other federal agencies. She has also made significant contributions to the progress we’ve made on contract support costs as well as in our work on Medicaid in states where expansion will be of particular benefit to Native Americans. Mary has significant management experience from her time working in federal and state government and in the private sector. Mary’s expertise on Native American issues and track record of delivering impact for the tribal community will undoubtedly be great assets to IHS as she assumes this new role. I am very pleased to have Mary serve as Principal Deputy, and look forward to working with her in her new role.

I also want to express my appreciation to Bob McSwain, who has diligently carried out the responsibilities of the Director since February 2015. Bob has requested to serve in another capacity within IHS to allow more time to be with his family. Bob, a member of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, is a long time civil servant who began his federal career with the Indian Health Service in 1976. Bob has been a steward for IHS and committed to its mission of ensuring high quality comprehensive health services are available and accessible to American Indian and Alaska Native people across the United States. I appreciate Bob’s willingness to lead IHS during this important time.

Please join me in thanking Bob for his leadership and congratulating Mary on her new position.

Sylvia M. Burwell