In honor of Black History Month, the National Academy of Social Insurance wishes to recognize African American public servants who have led the nation’s major federal social insurance programs, Social Security and Medicare, as well as the Department of Labor, which plays a role in state-based social insurance programs, Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Insurance.

(In alphabetical order)

Carolyn W. Colvin served as Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) from 2011 to 2013, after being nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate in 2010Colvin stepped down as Acting Commissioner in January 2017. Previously, she served as Deputy Commissioner of SSA, having been nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate in 2010. Colvin began her public service career in Maryland in the office of U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes in 1982. Her distinguished public service career includes positions for the City of Baltimore and the state of Maryland, as well as other positions at SSA. A member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 2011, Ms. Colvin received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Business Administration from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.


Alexis M. Herman served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1997 to 2005. She brought more than two decades of leadership to the position of and spent her entire career on the front line of the changing workforce – as a businesswoman, a government executive, and a community leader – developing, promoting, and implementing policies to benefit workers and to increase opportunities and skills for the hard-to-employ. Before joining President Clinton’s Cabinet, Herman served in the administration as assistant to the President and director of the White House Public Liaison Office. She served as the 23rd Secretary of Labor and the first African American to head the department. Herman led the Department of Labor to focus its work on three goals: a prepared workforce, a secure workforce and a quality workforce. Secretary Herman received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Xavier University in New Orleans.


Gwendolyn King was appointed Commissioner of the Social Security Administration from 1989 to 1992, by President George H. W. Bush. After stepping down, she took on a senior vice president position at Philadelphia Electric Company. Prior to her appointment at SSA, King held illustrious positions including, executive vice president at Gogol & Associates, Inc., tenure in the White House as Deputy Assistant to President Reagan, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Director of then Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh’s D.C. office, Senior Legislative Assistant to Senator John Heinz, and director of the Division of Consumer Complaints for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. King earned her bachelor’s degree in French and education from Howard University.


William Toby, Jr., served as Acting Administrator of the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), for 18 months from 1992-1993. He is a 31-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and has been a private healthcare consultant since retiring in 1996 from his position as Regional Administrator of HCFA. Toby has served on many public service boards, received a number of prestigious awards, and holds a Master’s Degree in health administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a Master’s in social work from Adelphi University, a Bachelor’s in Spanish and psychology from West Virginia State University, an honorable doctorate in podiatric medicine, and holds advanced certificates in Spanish from the Universities of Leon and Toledo in Spain.

In 1991, at the recommendation of then Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, President George H. W. Bush appointed Toby a U.S. Delegate to the first and historic African & African-American Summit, which was held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The Summit brought together the heads of four African nations with distinguished African American leaders to discuss the African Diaspora and how the American leaders could assist their ancestral homeland. In 2012, New York Governor Cuomo appointed Toby to the prestigious Medicaid Redesign Workgroup for a study of safety net hospitals in Brooklyn, NY. Later, in 2015, Governor Cuomo appointed Toby Co-Chair of the State’s Medicaid Delivery System Reform Incentive Program (DSRIP) designed to use $9 billion to transform the State’s health care delivery system move away from the acute care system. In 2015, following an earlier commendation by the Puerto Rico Legislature, the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce and the Puerto Rico Medicare Coalition presented Toby with a prestigious Life Achievement Award for his forty-five years of assistance to the Puerto Rico health sector.

Posted on: February 19, 2020


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