Deidre S. Gifford, MD, MPH
Commissioner, Department of Social Services
Senior Advisor to the Governor for Health and Human Services
Dr. Deidre S. Gifford serves the State of Connecticut as Commissioner of the Department of Social Services and Senior Advisor to the Governor for Health and Human Services.
Dr. Gifford was appointed by Governor Ned Lamont to lead the Department of Social Services in June 2019, after executive service with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and experience in medical practice, the non-profit sector and government service in Rhode Island.
In May 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic intensified, Governor Lamont appointed Commissioner Gifford to also head the Department of Public Health, as Acting Commissioner. She served as a leading member of the Governor’s team in planning and implementing the state’s comprehensive response to the public health emergency until September 2021.
In July 2021, Governor Lamont appointed Commissioner Gifford to the additional duty of serving as 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 agencies to improving health and healthcare in Connecticut. The Senior Advisor is responsible for convening and leading coordination efforts between these agencies, working closely with the Office of Policy and Management, as well as providing the Governor with policy input and recommendations that address issues of health, healthcare costs, quality, and disparities.
Prior to beginning service in Connecticut, Commissioner Gifford was Deputy Director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) Services at CMS from 2016 to 2019. Before joining CMS, she served as the 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 advance value-based purchasing in Medicaid.
From 2012 to 2015, Commissioner Gifford served as Medicaid Director in the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services, having previously served as the agency’s medical director. During her tenure, she advanced changes in the payment and delivery system to improve the quality of care and enhance the value of Medicaid services, including the development of numerous initiatives in care coordination, information technology, and provider payment innovations.
A graduate in Public Health of the University of California at Los Angeles, Commissioner Gifford received her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in New York. She specialized in obstetrics and gynecology, and went on to receive a master of public health degree in epidemiology from UCLA.
The mission of the Department of Social Services is “To make a positive impact on the health and well-being of Connecticut’s individuals, families, and communities.” The Department supports the basic needs of about 1 million Connecticut children, families and individuals, including older adults and persons with disabilities. With its partners, the agency provides health care coverage, food and nutrition assistance, financial assistance, child support services, energy aid, independent living services, social work services, protective services for the elderly, home-heating aid, and additional vital assistance to people from across the state.