Executive Team Bios


Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm

Andrea Palm most recently served as Senior Counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under President Obama, where she oversaw the public health and human services agencies, encompassing more than 60,000 staff. She also served as the Chief of Staff for HHS from 2013-14. Her executive career spans more than two decades, with key leadership positions for the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Congressman Robert Matsui. She was a Senior Advisor at the White House Domestic Policy Council during the implementation and rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Palm received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a graduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis.


Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk

Julie Willems Van Dijk most recently served as the Director of County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, a national collaboration between the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, providing data, evidence, and guidance to over 3,000 counties who are building a culture of health. Prior to joining the Institute, she was the Marathon County Public Health Officer and served on the boards of Aspirus Wausau Hospital and Bridge Community Health Clinic, and as an elected member of the Wausau School District Board of Education. Willems Van Dijk earned a PhD in nursing from the University of WI-Milwaukee and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.


Assistant Deputy Secretary Nicole Safar

Nicole Safar joins DHS from Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI). Most recently, Nicole was the Vice President of Public Affairs and Legal Advocacy, where she focused on leadership development; policy, communications and organizing; and integrating a racial justice lens into all levels of advocacy work. She managed PPWI’s legal team and supervised two major lawsuits that protected access to health care in Wisconsin. Prior to that role she was PPWI’s Director of Government Relations for six years and the Policy and Legal Associate. Nicole has a JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School.


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Last Revised: September 12, 2019