Alison Beam to step down as acting health secretary

Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam

Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam Commonwealth Media Services

Acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary Alison Beam will leave her post as the state’s top health official at the end of this year after nearly a year heading the state Department of Health. 

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration announced Monday that Beam will resign her post at the end of this year and that Department of Health Executive Deputy Secretary Keara Klinepeter will take over as acting secretary.

In a statement, Wolf praised Beam for her work as acting health secretary, which came as the administration looked to roll out COVID-19 vaccinations across the state. 

“I am proud to have worked with Acting Secretary Beam over the past several years, and the commonwealth has been fortunate to have had the benefit of her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic – especially as the Department of Health oversaw a massive vaccine roll-out over the course of the past year,” Wolf said. 

Beam was nominated as health secretary after former Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine left for a job in President Joe Biden’s administration. She previously served as deputy chief of staff to Wolf and also served as chief of staff to the state’s insurance commissioner. 

Beam called her time as health secretary “the most humbling honor” of her career. 

“Under the governor’s leadership, the administration has made critical strides in ensuring access to health care for all Pennsylvanians, and in turn, created a healthier, more equitable commonwealth for generations to come,” Beam said in a news release. “I could not be prouder to have worked alongside such devoted public servants during my tenure with the Wolf administration.”

In addition to her role in administering the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts, Beam also signed a controversial order requiring masks in Pennsylvania schools, prompting some state lawmakers to introduce measures that would reduce the executive powers of cabinet officials. The school mask order was recently struck down by the state Supreme Court

Klinepeter, Beam’s replacement, thanked Wolf for the opportunity to serve as acting health secretary.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the tremendous employees at the Department of Health and ensuring public health remains a top priority throughout the commonwealth,” Klinepeter said in a statement. “I am honored for the opportunity to lead public health efforts during this critical time and to serve my fellow Pennsylvanians.”