Press Release

Press Release Margret Cooke Appointed Commissioner of Public Health

Other personnel appointments include new Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Commissioner
For immediate release:
  • Executive Office of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Public Health

Media Contact for Margret Cooke Appointed Commissioner of Public Health

Kayla Rosario-Muñoz, Media Relations Manager, Executive Office of Health and Human Services

press release

BostonToday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders announced that Margret Cooke, Acting Commissioner for the Department of Public Health (DPH) for the past 7 months has been appointed to the role permanently, effective immediately. Cooke joined DPH as General Counsel in 2015, before being promoted to Deputy Commissioner in 2020 and most recently serving as Acting Commissioner.  Her long record of public service includes Deputy Bureau Chief in the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau in the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General.

“Commissioner Cooke’s strong command of the work of the department, coupled with her policy and management skills and legal acumen have been invaluable,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “I am deeply grateful for her willingness to serve as Commissioner and for her commitment to public health and public service in Massachusetts that is inclusive and accessible.”

“I am so pleased to assume this role and continue to work with our talented and hard-working DPH staff,” said Cooke.  “I look forward to continuing our work on priorities including mitigating COVID-19, addressing the ongoing opioid epidemic, and working to keep people healthy and communities strong throughout our Commonwealth, with a particular focus on health equity.”

Prior to her appointment as Acting Commissioner, Cooke served as Deputy Commissioner for the Department in 2020. Before that, she served as General Counsel for the Department for almost six years, providing legal and strategic counsel and guiding the department through ­­­critical public health issues including the COVID-19 and vaping public health emergencies, the opioid epidemic, crisis standards of care protocols, Title X and family planning funding, EEE and West Nile Virus outbreaks, and Long-Term Care Facility oversight.

Cooke joined the Department from the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General where she led the Attorney General’s Health Care Division and its work to eliminate barriers to mental health parity.  Her prior legal work focused on consumer protection issues including unfair lending practices and financial and health data security.

Cooke has a demonstrated commitment to public health and has dedicated her legal career to public service in fields as varied as child welfare, domestic violence, and civil rights.  She holds a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, and a BA degree from Mount Holyoke College.

Other personnel announcements made today:

  • DPH Chief of Staff Jennifer Barrelle has been named Deputy Commissioner for the department, continuing her lead role in the DPH pandemic response, her policy and strategic planning focus, and her role overseeing the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality and Bureau of Health Professions Licensure.  Barrelle joined DPH in 2013 as Director of Constituent Services and Special Projects and has served as Acting Deputy Chief of Staff, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Acting BSAS Director, and Chief of Staff. Prior to DPH, she worked in the MA House of Representatives for more than 6 years.
  • Dr. Estevan Garcia, a board-certified pediatrician and pediatric emergency medicine physician, joins DPH as Chief Medical Officer in the Commissioner’s Office. Dr. Garcia will strengthen the department’s clinical capacity and expertise, support policy, program, and regulatory work, and provide clinical leadership for DPH’s work on racial equity, eliminating health disparities and population health with a focus on community health, chronic disease and maternal and child health. Garcia comes to DPH from Cooley Dickinson Health Care in Northampton where he was Chief Medical Officer. He also works clinically in the pediatric emergency department at UMass Memorial Medical Center. Garcia earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, completing his residency at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.  He also holds an MPA from NYUWagner and a doctorate from CUNY School of Public Health.  
  • Yves Singletary moves from DPH’s Bureau of Community Health and Prevention to a new role as Senior Advisor to the Commissioner, working to increase collaboration across DPH, and help respond to community needs. Singletary has committed his career to creating a positive impact in the lives of children, youth, and families, working on youth development, violence prevention, and equity. He has been at DPH since 2019, working on violence and injury prevention and increasing access to clinical care. Over the past year, he has been a department leader in the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Initiative and its focus on 20 cities and towns hardest hit by the pandemic. 


Media Contact for Margret Cooke Appointed Commissioner of Public Health

Executive Office of Health and Human Services 

The Executive Office of Health and Human Services is the largest secretariat in state government and is comprised of 12 agencies, in addition to 2 soldiers’ homes and the MassHealth program. Our efforts are focused on the health, resilience, and independence of the one in four residents of the Commonwealth we serve. Our public health programs touch every community in the Commonwealth.

Department of Public Health 

DPH keeps people healthy and communities strong. We promote the health and well-being of all residents by ensuring access to high-quality public health and healthcare services, focusing on prevention and wellness, and health equity for all.

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