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 Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, and experience in medical practice, the non-profit sector and government health 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 has served as a leading member of the Governor’s team in planning and implementing the state’s comprehensive response to the public health emergency. Dr. Manisha Juthani took office as Public Health Commissioner on September 20, 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 new 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 provide the Governor with policy input and recommendations that address issues of health, healthcare costs, quality, and disparities.
- For Governor Lamont’s appointment announcement of Commissioner Gifford as Senior Advisor to the Governor for Health and Human Services (7-26-21), as he nominated Dr. Juthani as Public Health Commissioner, please visit: Governor Lamont Nominates Dr. Manisha Juthani as Public Health Commissioner (ct.gov); Social Services Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford Takes On Additional Duty as Senior Advisor to the Governor for Health and Human Services
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 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) since 2016. 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 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 received a master of public health degree in epidemiology from UCLA.
The Department of Social Services (www.ct.gov/dss) supports the basic needs of about 1 million Connecticut children, families and individuals, including older adults and persons with disabilities. With service 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.
- For Governor Lamont’s appointment announcement of Dr. Gifford as Department of Social Services Commissioner (5-24-19), please visit: https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/News/Press-Releases/2019/05-2019/Governor-Lamont-Selects-Deidre-Gifford-to-Serve-as-Commissioner-of-the-Department-of-Social-Services
- For Governor Lamont’s appointment announcement of Dr. Gifford as Department of Public Health Acting Commissioner (5-12-20), please visit: https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/News/Press-Releases/2020/05-2020/Governor-Lamont-Announces-Appointment-of-Deidre-Gifford-as-Acting-Commissioner-of-Public-Health