dr. Deidre Gifford, State of Connecticut Commissioner of Department of Social Services and Senior Advisor to the Governor for Health and Human Services, will be the speaker for UConn School of Pharmacy’s Pharm.D. class of 2022. She will speak on Sunday, May 8 at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts where the ceremony will take place.
Gifford was appointed in June 2019 by Governor Ned Lamont to head the Department of Social Services, after executive service at the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and experience in medical practice, the nonprofit sector, and government services in Rhode Island.
In May 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic intensified, Governor Lamont appointed Gifford to also head of the Ministry of Health, as Acting Commissioner. She served as a lead member of the governor’s team until September 2021 in planning and executing the state’s comprehensive response to the public health emergency.
“Commissioner Gifford’s leadership is the reason our School of Pharmacy became deeply involved in Connecticut’s efforts to vaccinate its citizens. Both students and educators became involved in contact tracing in 2020, then in 2021 helped vaccinate and train and certify health professionals such as EMTs and dentists, who normally do not vaccinate. She also called on one of our faculties, Dr. Jennifer Girotto, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, to join the Governor’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group,” said Philip Hritcko, Pharm.D., Dean. “We are grateful that we were able to help and grateful that Dr. Gifford recognized that we could.”
In July 2021, Governor Lamont appointed Gifford to the additional position of Senior Advisor to the Governor for Health and Human Services. In this role, she is tasked with coordinating a multi-agency approach among the state’s nine health and human services to improve health and healthcare in Connecticut. The senior advisor is responsible for convening and directing coordination efforts between these agencies, working closely with the Office of Policy and Management, and providing policy input and recommendations to the governor related to health issues, health care costs , quality and inequalities.
Before starting in Connecticut, Gifford was Deputy Ddirector of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) Services at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from 2016 to 2019. Before joining CMS, she was director of state policy and programs at the National Association of Medicaid directors, where she led that organization’s efforts with states to support and promote value-based purchases in Medicaid.
From 2012 to 2015, Gifford served as a Medicaid director in the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services, previously serving as the agency’s medical director. During her tenure, she made changes to the payment and delivery system to improve the quality of care and increase the value of Medicaid services, including the development of numerous initiatives in care coordination, information technology and provider payment innovations.
A graduate of public health from the University of California at Los Angeles, Gifford received her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in New York. She specialized in obstetrics and gynecology and then earned a master of public health degree in epidemiology from UCLA.