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Mary L. Smith
Principal Deputy Director
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Indian Health Service

Mary L. Smith, a member of the Cherokee Nation, is the Principal Deputy Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS). The IHS, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, is the principal federal health care advocate and provider for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Ms. Smith administers a $4.8 billion nationwide health care delivery program that is responsible for providing preventive, curative, and community health care to approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in hospitals, clinics, and other settings throughout the United States. Her key priorities include behavioral health, native youth initiatives such as Generation Indigenous, contract support costs and making sustainable improvements for direct service tribes to increase quality of care.

Ms. Smith previously served in the Clinton White House as the Associate Counsel to the President and also as Associate Director of Policy Planning in the Domestic Policy Council. In those roles, she provided leadership on a variety of policy priorities, including Native American issues, and coordinated with the Indian Health Service on preventive care and efforts to reduce health disparities. She was the highestranking Native American during the Clinton Administration.

More recently, Ms. Smith held the position of General Counsel at the Illinois Department of Insurance where she was responsible for implementation of the legal aspects of the Affordable Care Act in Illinois. In this position, Ms. Smith worked extensively with health care insurers across the country and with the Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to this, Ms. Smith worked as Counselor in the Civil Division at the Department of Justice from 2009 to 2011 where she was also the highest-ranking Native American political appointee.

Ms. Smith served as the first Native American woman on the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors from 2009 to 2012. She was also the President of the National Native American Bar Association from 2013 to 2015. Ms. Smith also has substantial management experience from her time working for a Fortune 100 company. She brings her years of experience as an advocate for tribal matters to the Deputy Director position.

Ms. Smith graduated from the University of Chicago School of Law, cum laude, where she was a member of the Law Review. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Computer Science, magna cum laude, from Loyola University of Chicago.

Ms. Smith’s numerous honors and awards include the 2012 Spirit of Excellence award from the American Bar Association.