Governor Hobbs Issues Statement on Withdrawing Nomination of Dr. Theresa Cullen

News Release

February 14, 2023

PHOENIX — Today, Governor Katie Hobbs withdrew her nomination of Rear Admiral Theresa Cullen, M.D., M.S. to serve as the Director of the Department of Health Services. With 27 years of public service, Dr. Cullen is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced public health professionals in the country. Her experience includes:

  • Running the only maternity Ebola clinic in Sierra Leone in 2014, and working as one of only 1,500 US civilian volunteers deployed to the area.

  • Serving in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, retiring with the rank of Rear Admiral.

  • Serving as the chief information medical officer, and the director of health Informatics for the Veterans Health Administration.

  • Serving as the chief information officer for the Indian Health Services.

  • Serving as the director of Pima County’s Health Department.


“Her actions and her decisions saved countless lives during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Hobbs said. “In December 2022, Arizona became the State with the single highest number of Covid deaths per capita across the Country. Dr. Cullen’s leadership during those tumultuous years directly resulted in more Arizonans being alive and with us today.


“But even with this mountain of expertise, and an immense track record of public health success, some lawmakers have decided that they should instead participate in vicious personal attacks and criticism over a tweet thanking frontline healthcare workers several years ago. This is not only foolish, it detracts from the important work we have in front of us.


“While I am deeply concerned that Dr. Cullen has chosen not to proceed as the nominee for AzDHS director, I understand and respect her decision. The way some Republicans behaved on the State Senate’s committee on director nominations was nothing short of harassment and those who participated in it should be ashamed of their behavior - we all should.


“If the Senate’s Director Nominations Committee is unwilling to acknowledge the skill and expertise of Dr. Cullen, there may be no public health professional in the State they would endorse. As long as Republicans choose politics over the people of Arizona, some of the most talented and qualified candidates will choose not to enter state service, and it is the people of Arizona who will suffer most because of these political games.”


Additional Background:

Organizations and individuals who wrote letters of support for Dr. Cullen's appointment:

  • ARP of Arizona

  • American Cancer Society - Cancer Action Network

  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

  • Arizona Association of Health Plans

  • Arizona Asthma Coalition

  • Arizona Chronic Care Together

  • Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

  • Arizona Council of Human Service Providers

  • Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association

  • Arizona Medical Association

  • Arizona Nurses Association

  • Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association

  • Arizona Peer and Family Coalition

  • Arizona Psychiatric Society

  • Arizona Radiological Society

  • Arizona Rural Health Association

  • Arizona Society of Anesthesiologists

  • Arizona Urological Society

  • AZ Public Health Association

  • Benson Hospital

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

  • Charles Ty Reidhead, MD, MPH, Director, Phoenix Area Indian Health Service

  • Dr. Charlton A. Wilson

  • El Rio Health

  • Health System Alliance of Arizona

  • Kallistos Wellness

  • Maricopa County Medical Society

  • Mayo Clinic

  • MHC Healthcare

  • Native American Connections

  • Northern Cochise Community Hospital

  • Pima County Medical Society

  • Pinnacle Prevention

  • Rear Admiral (ret.) Vincent A. Berkley, DO, MBA, US Public Health Service

  • Robert C. Robbins, President, University of Arizona

  • The Wellbeing Collaborative of Arizona

  • TMC Health

  • Tucson Indian Center

  • Tucson Medical Center

  • Valleywise Health