Kansas Governor Appoints Acting Secretary of State for Health and Environment Agency


TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly on Monday appointed a health care administrator to fill the role of secretary at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Janet Stanek, who has served as the director of the state employee health benefits program since September 2020, will work as KDHE secretary on an interim basis pending the confirmation process in the Kansas Senate. She replaced Lee Norman, who stepped down as KDHE secretary earlier in November after having held the post since Kelly took office in January 2019.

Kelly said Stanek would be tasked with moving KDHE to the next phase of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With Janet’s decades of experience and the connections she has built within the Kansas medical community, I have no doubt that she will be able to take on this role immediately and continue the essential work of the agency,” said the Democratic governor.

Stanek has held leadership roles in healthcare for the past 35 years in Kansas, Pennsylvania and New York. In addition to the state health program in Kansas, she worked for 21 years at Stormont Vail Health in Topeka. She was Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Stormont Vail.

Stanek, also chair of the Kansas Health Institute board, said she looks forward to working with her colleagues at KDHE.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, the agency has done an outstanding job helping to lead the state’s response to this unique crisis in a century,” she said.

Stanek received a master’s degree from Alfred University in New York and a bachelor’s degree in health information management from the Polytechnic Institute of the State University of New York in Utica, New York.

On November 19, Norman abruptly left the KDHE after months of dialogue with officials in the Kelly administration about a possible change of leadership within the agency. Norman’s public profile had been diminished throughout 2021 after clashes with Kelly’s chief of staff.

Kelly marked Norman’s exit by noting the “vital role” he played in the work of the administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. She had appointed Ashley Goss, deputy secretary of the KDHE, to serve ad interim as secretary.

Kelly said Ximena Garcia, a doctor who has advised the governor on immunization matters, would be acting public health officer and Medicaid medical director.