Governor Shapiro’s Nominees for Secretary at Departments of Human Services, Revenue, and State Take Office
June 29, 2023
Harrisburg, PA – Today, three of Governor Josh Shapiro’s cabinet nominees officially become secretaries of their respective offices in accordance with the Pennsylvania Constitution: Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Val Arkoosh, Department of Revenue (DOR) Secretary Pat Browne, and Department of State (DOS) Secretary Al Schmidt.
Secretary Arkoosh, Secretary Browne, and Secretary Schmidt each bring decades of experience, public service, and expertise to their respective agencies – and will work to advance the Shapiro Administration’s commitment to create real opportunity, support the safety and wellbeing of Pennsylvanians, and make Commonwealth services more efficient and accessible for all. Read more about the cabinet members below.
Following a decades-long career as a physician, public health professional, and former county commissioner, Secretary Arkoosh brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to DHS. In her time as a Montgomery County Commissioner, Dr. Arkoosh was committed to strengthening services for children, veterans, and seniors and led Montgomery County’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Secretary Arkoosh joined DHS shortly after the federal government set forth significant changes to Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As Acting Secretary, Dr. Arkoosh has led the effort to mobilize the Department and supply Pennsylvanians affected by these changes with resources to take action and help them navigate the Medicaid renewal process. Within the first 100 days of the Shapiro Administration, Secretary Arkoosh oversaw a Medicaid backlog reduction – narrowing a list of 35,000 waiting applicants by 75% to less than 8,500 applicants, which has since been cleared. Secretary Arkoosh is committed to improving efficient DHS operations as a service provider and effective steward of taxpayer dollars – ensuring Pennsylvanians are getting the care and services they need.
Secretary Browne is a career public servant. Prior to his nomination by Governor Shapiro, he served for 28 years in the General Assembly, representing Lehigh and Northampton counties, representing the 131st District as a member of the state House of Representatives and the 16th District in the state Senate. During his legislative career, Browne was the author of dozens of bills, including those focused on job creation, education, pension reform, and improvements to state government, and he served as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Under his leadership, the DOR announced the extension of the filing deadline for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2022 to ensure more eligible applicants can take advantage of the program, updated monthly revenue reports to provide additional context and expand consumer-focused information, advocated for Governor Shapiro’s proposed budget – which includes a major expansion of the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program that benefits older residents and Pennsylvanians with disabilities – and oversaw a successful tax filing season that processed more than 6.5 million returns.
Secretary Schmidt previously served as a Philadelphia City Commissioner and a member of the city’s bipartisan board of elections for 10 years. A Pittsburgh native and the first Secretary of the Commonwealth to emerge from the ranks of county local election administrators, Schmidt was formerly president and chief executive officer of the Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization focused on strengthening democracy and combatting political corruption. He also worked as a senior performance analyst at the nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office. In January of this year, President Biden awarded Schmidt the Presidential Citizen’s Medal – the nation’s second highest civilian award – for his work to ensure the integrity of the 2020 Presidential Election and to faithfully oversee the nonpartisan counting of ballots.
Under his leadership at the DOS, Secretary Schmidt has overseen the Department’s efforts to expand language access online for voters, provide a tool to help veterans and service members identify and relate civilian career opportunities and requirements to their prior military work experience, reduce waiting times for business and charitable organization filings from eight weeks to less than two weeks; and safely and securely administered the May 16 municipal primary election.
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