Born In: Johnstown, Pennsylvania, United States
Alex Azar is an American politician, a Republican party member, and a former attorney, who has served as the 24th US Secretary of Health and Human Services from January 2018 to January 2021. He began his career as a legal clerk for conservative judges. He also served as the General Counsel, and then the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, under the George W. Bush administration. He later had a full-fledged corporate career with the global pharmaceutical company Eli Lily and Company, where he eventually rose to be the President. In 2020, he was named the 1st Chairman of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and played a significant role in managing the virus and overseeing Operation Warp Speed. He has been on the boards of several organizations. He later joined Miami’s Herbert Business School as an adjunct professor of health management and policy. He is married and is a father of two.
Also Known As: Alex Michael Azar II
Spouse/Ex-: Jennifer Azar
father: Alex Azar
mother: Lynda Azar
Born Country: United States
U.S. State: Pennsylvania
education: Yale Law School (1991), Dartmouth College (1988), Yale University
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Alex Azar was born Alex Michael Azar II, on June 17, 1967, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to Alex Michael Azar Sr. and Lynda (Zarisky). His father was an ophthalmologist who practiced in Salisbury, Maryland, where Azar was mostly raised. His father also taught at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Azar is of Lebanese descent, as his grandfather moved from Lebanon to the US in the first half of the 20th century. Their ancestral roots lie in the Greek orthodox region of Amioun in Lebanon. He also has Ukrainian, Swiss, and English roots.
In Maryland, he attended the Parkside High School and graduated in 1985. In 1988, he graduated with bachelor’s degrees in economics and government from Dartmouth College. At Dartmouth, he was part of the Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity.
In 1991, he obtained a JD degree from the law school at Yale University. He was also associated with the Yale Law Journal.
After completing his education, Alex Azar clerked for a couple of conservative judges of the US. Thus, between 1991 and 1992, he was a law clerk to US Court of Appeals judge J. Michael Luttig, while from 1992 to 1993, he clerked Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
From 1994 to 1996, he worked as an Associate Independent Counsel in the office of Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton. From 1996 to 2001, he worked as a partner with the law firm Wiley Rein LLP.
In 2000, he was part of the legal team that represented George W. Bush during the recount of the presidential election results in Florida. In August 2001, he took over as the General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services, under the presidency of George W. Bush, and continued in the position till July 2005.
In 2005, he took over as the Deputy Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services, under the George W. Bush administration, and continued till 2007. In his capacity, Azar tried improving the department’s operations and its emergency preparedness.
He also focused on improving the department’s global health activities, oversaw the launch of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, and spearheaded the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation.
In 2007, he quit the federal government and joined the pharmaceutical company Eli Lily and Company, where he held a number of senior positions in the years to come. Thus, from June 2007 to March 2009, he was the Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs and Communications at the company, while he took over as the Vice President, Managed Healthcare Services and Puerto Rico in the same company in April 2009.
In January 2012, he became President at the company and continued in the post till January 2017. He eventually stepped down to launch a consulting firm.
Azar was nominated by President Donald Trump as the 24th US Secretary of Health and Human Services in November 2017. The US Senate voted 55 to 43 in his favor in January 2018. Azar was sworn in on January 29, 2018 and continued in office till January 20, 2021, the final day of President Trump's term in office.
In his capacity, Azar oversaw a department that was one of the largest federal health agencies ever, in terms of budget. He also managed Trump’s National Biodefense Strategy (2018) and Global Health Security Strategy (2019).
Azar was criticized for the way his department handled the scores of immigrant children who were separated from their parents by the Trump administration. He also spoke against abortion and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread, Azar got involved in efficiently responding to the virus. He was one of the first to alert the White House about the national threat posed by the virus in January 2020. He also served as the 1st Chairman of the White House Coronavirus Task Force from January to February 2020.
However, as the virus overwhelmed the Trump administration, Azar took over a secondary role, while President Trump made Vice President Mike Pence the head of the coronavirus task force. Nevertheless, Azar oversaw the US government’s public-private partnership program Operation Warp Speed, which was aimed at developing, testing, manufacturing, and distributing the COVID-19 vaccines in record time.
Azar has been an Episcopalian and is currently an Antiochian Orthodox Christian. He initially lived in Indianapolis with his wife, Jennifer Reist, and their two children. In 2020, while speaking on a rule on gluten-free labelling, he revealed he suffers from celiac disease.
He was part of the board of HMS Holdings for two years. He is also part of the board of the American Council on Germany, where he is the chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee. He has been on the boards of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, too.
He has been part of the board of directors of the Healthcare Leadership Council, too, serving as a treasurer. He was on the boards of the Indianapolis International Airport Authority, where he served as the chairman of the Human Resources Committee, and the National Association of Manufacturers. He later joined the Herbert Business School in Miami as an Adjunct Professor of Health Management and Policy.
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