Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the nation’s highest ranking health official, will be the keynote speaker for the Howard University School of Divinity Spring Semester Convocation at noon on Jan. 18, in the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel.
Sebelius, who leads the principal agency charged with keeping Americans healthy, will discuss the implementation of the Obama Administration’s historic legislation, the Affordable Care Act, as a continuation of the nation’s civil rights struggle during the university’s annual weeklong celebration of the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Alton B. Pollard III, dean of the School of Divinity, said having Sebelius as the convocation keynote speaker reflects the school’s mission of tending to society’s spiritual and physical needs.
“We welcome Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her leadership in ensuring that all our citizenry are franchised in mind and body, as well as spirit for the healing of the nation,” Pollard said.
“Only a holistic and progressive understanding of religion that is concerned with the totality of life – body, mind and soul – in the face of continued inequities, can be relied upon to guard the critical interests of our communities.”
Since taking office as secretary, Sebelius, governor of Kansas from 2003 to 2009, has been at the forefront of efforts to build a 21st century health care system, from putting a new focus on prevention and wellness to promoting electronic medical records to expanding the primary care workforce.
Health and Human Services under Sebelius has played a key role in the Obama administration’s response to the economic downturn, helping families stay on their feet by providing health care, job training, child care and energy assistance. In addition, her agency coordinated the federal response to the 2009 H1N1 virus and helped provide medical assistance following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
Sebelius is also working with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to dramatically improve the nation’s food safety system and with Attorney General Eric Holder to stamp out health care fraud. She has teamed up with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to raise the quality of early childhood education programs and with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to improve the lives of seniors and people with disabilities who wish to live at home.