July 29, 2016
Dear Friends of ACL:
Today is my last day at the Administration for Community Living.
Saying goodbye seems both necessary and unnecessary. Although I will leave my positions as Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator, I will not disappear, and our paths may well cross again.
As I leave ACL, and with it, government service, I am mindful of all that has transpired for me these past 25 years.
I have had the honor of working with dedicated public servants for 18 years in the state of Kansas and seven years in the federal government, and I have been humbled by their devotion to our mission. Excellence in public service requires a fundamental commitment to the good of the whole, to the betterment of the citizens of the country we serve. I have seen people demonstrating that commitment every day for 25 years, and I am proud to have served alongside them.
(Another thing about excellence in public service -- it is not partisan, it is purposeful. Serving the President of the United States is the honor of a lifetime. I encourage all of you, regardless of your political views, to so aspire.)
I also have had the privilege of serving as a senior leader at the Department of Health and Human Services during an important chapter of American history, as the department shouldered the responsibility of implementing the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has brought health insurance to more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans, including many who had previously been denied because of pre-existing conditions, and it has improved coverage for countless more. It has been amazing to bear witness to such a momentous accomplishment that has done, and will do, so much for so many.
At the same time, with the support of former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, my colleagues Henry Claypool and Sharon Lewis and I were able to create a new federal home for programs that serve older adults, people with disabilities of all ages, and their families. It was the right idea at the right time, with the right leadership. In the four years since, the Administration for Community Living, together with the aging and disability networks, have developed a solid foundation for working together to the benefit of all the people we serve. I have every confidence the Administration for Community Living will endure and thrive.
As I look into the faces of my colleagues at ACL and envision the millions of people across the country who benefit from our work, and the thousands who help us carry out it out, I am filled with a deep sense of respect and commitment. All of us, at our cores, are advocates. We are mission-driven people with a fundamental respect for human dignity. We are engaged, passionate, big-hearted people with a drive toward making thing better for other people, our families and friends, and ourselves.
My emotions are mixed on this final day. I will be sad to leave, but I also look forward to returning to Kansas. I leave behind a body of work of which I am immeasurably proud. I know my time in Washington has mattered. I have helped create an exciting new federal agency; have advanced policy and programs to improve the lives LGBT Americans; have energized our national efforts to address the scourge we call elder abuse; and worked to transform the business skills of aging and disability organizations who need new approaches in the transforming world of health and long term care. I am the public servant I had hoped to be.
All of this has been possible because of all of you. Thank you for every minute of the past seven years. For your support, encouragement, and friendship. I have had victories and failures, but I have no regrets. And I have had more fun and shared more laughs than I will ever remember.
Bless you for the work you do.