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Alumna Alison Beam, JD ’13, to be Nominated as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Department of Health

Alison Beam

January 29, 2021

On January 22, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that he will nominate Kline School of Law alumna Alison Beam, JD ’13, to serve as secretary of the Department of Health.  

Beam, who was one of the first students in Kline Law’s Health Law concentration, said, “[Kline Law] prepared me for a career in public health by cultivating a broad, yet deep, health law curriculum, with dedicated instructors who seamlessly integrated policy-driven and strategic thinking into the classroom.”

Beam became the acting secretary of health on January 23, following the departure of Dr. Rachel Levine, who was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as assistant secretary of health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Beam’s immediate focus will be distributing the COVID-19 vaccine throughout Pennsylvania, according to Governor Wolf. 

“This position is an opportunity to serve Pennsylvanians at a time of unprecedented crisis,” said Beam, “which also creates a path to reconstruct a better society than that which existed prior to the pandemic.”

While Beam will face unusual challenges as Secretary of the Department of Health, she is well-suited for the role, according to Dean Daniel M. Filler

“Alison’s passion for improving the health, and health care, of Pennsylvanians has been evident since she was a student at the law school. Even during law school, she took a leadership role in developing health policy in the state,” said Filler. “Alison is smart and compassionate. I can think of no better person to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health and lead Pennsylvania through the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Beam, 34, has already had a career rich in experience across the healthcare sector. Before matriculating at Kline Law, Beam worked in New York City as a senior consultant for McBee Associates, a healthcare consulting firm. In 2013, during the middle of her third year at Kline Law, Beam took a leadership position at Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, eventually moving to Independence Blue Cross in 2014. She transitioned out of the private sector and into public service when she became Governor Wolf’s chief of staff in 2017. 

Beam’s nomination does not come as a surprise to the Kline Law faculty who worked with her. “Alison was one of the most energetic and engaged health law students I have taught at the law school,” said Professor Robert I. Field. “In addition to being a star student, she eagerly helped me outside of class with a public health law course at Drexel’s Public Health School. Her interest in playing a major role in health policy was apparent back then. I am thrilled, but not too surprised, to see her reach this milestone.”

Beam served as Professor Barry R. Furrow’s first Dean Scholar. “Alison helped me teach Torts to a first year class,” said Furrow, “and she was heavily involved in law school activities related to health law. I have seen her often at the annual PBI Health Law Institute in Philadelphia and our roles have reversed as I learn from her presentations about state health programs and their progress.”

Photo courtesy Office of Gov. Tom Wolf