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Posted on: December 7, 2023

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Announces Executive Leadership Team Promotions

For Immediate Release Graphic

Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Secretary Janet Stanek today announced promotions within the agency’s Executive Leadership Team.

Christine Osterlund, Medicaid Director of Operations Deputy Director, has been promoted to Deputy Secretary for Agency and Integration and Medicaid. Osterlund will also serve as the Kansas Medicaid Director. She will be responsible for ensuring the integration and alignment of health-focused activities throughout KDHE. Additionally, she will oversee all aspects of the Medicaid Program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Osterlund joined KDHE in October 2022 as the Medicaid Director of Operations/Deputy Director.

“I am pleased to name Christine Osterlund as the KDHE Deputy Secretary for Agency Integration and Medicaid,” KDHE Secretary Janet Stanek said. “I am confident she will bring knowledge, experience and strong leadership skills to this new role.”

Osterlund has over 20 years of in-depth policy and operational knowledge of Medicaid and CHIP programs across several states. She has served in various Senior-level leadership positions with both vendor and Medicaid programs. Prior to joining KDHE, Osterlund spent five years at Maximus, Inc., where she served as the Senior Project Manager before being promoted to Vice President.

Dan Thimmesch, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), has been promoted to Deputy Secretary for Fiscal Services. Thimmesch will be the overall fiscal services function of all divisions for the Agency which includes Public Health, Environment, Health Care Finance (Medicaid & Children’s Health Insurance) and Administration.

“Dan’s promotion to Deputy Secretary for Fiscal Services provides comprehensive leadership on all agency financial matters,” Stanek said. “Dan will work across all divisions, bureaus and programs and continue to serve as a strategic leader for the Agency. Dan will oversee the financial, accounting and procurement functions of the agency. I look forward to seeing him work with our dedicated finance professionals to deliver excellence in all our services to our fellow Kansans.”

Thimmesch has served as CFO since joining the agency in 2016 and as interim Deputy Secretary of the Health Care Finance Division in 2019. He holds an MBA from Wake Forest University and a bachelor’s in business and Accounting from Newman University.

Matt Lara, Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs, has been promoted to Chief of Staff. In this new role, Lara will drive internal administration improvements across the agency, maintain regular outreach, and ensure clear messaging of priorities to internal and external stakeholders.

“Matt’s promotion to Chief of Staff will help ensure continuity as he will oversee day-to-day operations of the Office of the Secretary,” Stanek said. “Matt will quickly step in and continue to serve as a liaison and point of contact for the Governor’s Office and other state agencies. Matt is a great communicator and the right choice to be our Chief of Staff. I am eager to see how he will help us continue to protect and improve the health and environment now and for future generations of Kansans.”

Lara has nearly a decade of experience in public affairs in nonprofit organizations. He has served as Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs since 2022, both areas he will continue to oversee.  He joined the agency in 2021 as the Director of Communications, where he expanded the communications team and support for the agency by adding legislative affairs to his team.

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