On Friday. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the appointments of Simone Marstiller as secretary of the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) and Shevaun Harris as secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Marstiller has served as the secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) since 2019 and Harris, who most recently served as the acting secretary for AHCA, fills the vacancy created by the resignation of DCF Secretary Chad Poppell.
“Florida is fortunate to have some of the most talented leaders in the nation and I’m proud to announce Simone Marstiller as secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration and Shevaun Harris as secretary of the Department of Children and Families,” said DeSantis.“Simone has top-notch credentials, is a former judge and knows how to build and motivate a team to achieve results. Shevaun has steadily risen through the ranks and secured historic wins for the people of Florida, paired with her background in social work and health care, I have no doubt she will build upon our foundation to serve Florida’s most vulnerable.
“The First Lady and I thank Chad Poppell for his years of dedication and service to the state of Florida. As the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families, he has brought about transformational change to Florida’s child welfare system and was instrumental in the passage of the DCF Accountability Act. We wish him well as he moves on to new opportunities,” DeSantis added.
“I’m grateful to Governor DeSantis for his confidence in me to take on this role at such a critical moment in our state’s history,” said Marstiller. “The Agency for Health Care Administration has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 public health emergency and ensuring vaccines are available to our most vulnerable Floridians, particularly long-term care residents. I am humbled by the opportunity to further the agency’s ongoing mission to achieve better health care for all Floridians and am thankful to have served two years as the Secretary for the Department of Juvenile Justice, where under this Governor’s leadership, we have made great strides in supporting Florida’s at-risk youth.”
“There is no mission more sacred than protecting our children and families and I thank Governor DeSantis for this opportunity to affect meaningful change,” said Harris. “Early on in my career, I pursued my master’s degree in social work because I wanted to make a difference. During my time at the Agency for Healthcare Administration, I spearheaded initiatives focused on quality improvement and policies that support better outcomes for children and families. I look forward to applying these experiences at the Department of Children and Families in support of the Governor and First Lady’s initiatives to serve our most vulnerable, particularly in the areas of mental health and fighting against substance abuse.”
The governor’s office offered the following biographies of the new secretaries.
- Simone Marstiller, Secretary, Agency for Health Care Administration
Simone Marstiller was appointed as Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in January 2019 by Governor Ron DeSantis and previously served six years as a judge on the First District Court of Appeal. Just prior to her role as Secretary of DJJ, Marstiller was Of Counsel with Gunster, Yoakley, Stewart, P.A., in the firm’s Tallahassee and Tampa offices.
Marstiller has decades of experience in state government and the legal field, covering a breadth of substantive areas including in health care, procurement management, administration and IT. She previously served as a judicial law clerk in the Fifth District Court of Appeal and then as Chief Appellate Counsel for the Agency for Health Care Administration where she represented the agency in the district courts of appeal defending disciplinary action taken against the licenses of health care practitioners. Her appellate cases also included issues relating to rule challenges, Medicaid provider contracts and reimbursements and other agency decisions.
In 2001, Marstiller became Assistant General Counsel to Governor Jeb Bush and in 2002 was selected to serve as General Counsel for the Department of Management Services (DMS). There, she managed all legal affairs for the agency, including matters related to government procurement, outsourcing, state facility management and collective bargaining. While serving in this capacity, Governor Bush appointed her Interim Secretary of the agency. From DMS, Simone returned to the Governor’s Office in 2003 to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff.
In 2004, Marstiller was appointed State Chief Information Officer to head the state’s central technology planning and policy organization, and in 2005 she became Secretary of the Department Business and Professional Regulation, the state’s largest regulatory agency. In 2007, Attorney General Bill McCollum appointed her as Associate Deputy Attorney General for the State of Florida. Additionally, Marstiller is a former Executive Director for the Florida Elections Commission.
Marstiller was born in Monrovia, Liberia, and grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1988 from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, and her Juris Doctor, cum laude, in 1996 from Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida.
- Shevaun Harris, Secretary, Department of Children and Families
Shevaun Harris was appointed Acting Secretary for the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) in October 2020 by Governor Ron DeSantis, the agency which is responsible for administering the Florida Medicaid program and regulates over 40,000 health care facilities in the state. Prior to her role as Acting Secretary, Harris held multiple leadership roles since first joining the Agency in 2005.
During her time at AHCA, Harris oversaw the development and maintenance of all policies for Medicaid services, including those focused on children with special health care needs, Medicaid eligibility, long-term care and behavioral health. She managed the implementation of the Agency’s quality improvement initiatives with particular focus on perinatal and behavioral health outcomes and spearheaded the development of the State’s Canadian Prescription Drug Importation program. She has led several major implementations and served as the lead negotiator for multi-billion-dollar contracts under the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program, including contracts with specialty plans that serve the child welfare population and individuals with serious mental illness.
Prior to joining AHCA, Harris held positions in the health and human services field providing services to children and adults diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and children receiving services in an inpatient psychiatric program. She has served as an Adjunct Professor at Florida State University and a Case Manager at Big Bend Cares serving vulnerable Floridians.
Harris holds a Master of Business Administration from Quinnipiac University, a Master of Social Work from Florida State University and received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Minor in Business from Florida State University.