Assistant Secretary for Aging: Who is Kathy Greenlee?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

If Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius ever longs for her days back in Kansas, she can always wander down the hall and visit with her old pal, Kathy J. Greenlee. The new head of the Administration on Aging is a longtime aide of Sebelius, having served under her while she was Kansas’s governor and state insurance commissioner.

A native of Topeka, Greenlee, 49, attended college at the University of Kansas where she received her bachelor’s in business administration in 1985. She received her Juris Doctor from the university’s law school in 1988, and was admitted to the Kansas bar that same year.
While finishing law school she went to work in 1987 for the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, and eventually became the organization’s executive director and first paid staff member. She concurrently served as a member of the state attorney general’s Victims’ Rights Task Force during this time.
In 1989 Greenlee left the coalition to become a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Topeka, specializing in elder law and general civil law. She handled divorce, paternity, child custody and social security disability cases, as well as prepared simple wills and living wills and made presentations to senior citizen groups.
Greenlee joined the state attorney general’s office in April 1991 as an assistant attorney general working in the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control for the Kansas Department of Revenue. Her primary duty was to enforce the Kansas Liquor Control Act. The following year she shifted to the AG’s Consumer Protection Division and developed expertise in areas of telemarketing fraud, puzzle contests and junk mail.
Her work in consumer protection led to her becoming the director of the Consumer Assistance Division in the Kansas Insurance Department in April 1995, which involved handling a staff of 25 and managing inquiries from consumers and state lawmakers. Four years later she was promoted to general counsel for the entire Kansas Insurance Department, where she supervised six attorneys and a support staff of nine employees. She advised the Commissioner of Insurance, who was then Kathleen Sebelius, on a range of regulatory and policy issues. She also led a team of regulators who evaluated the proposed sale of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas—which Sebelius eventually blocked—and chaired the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Managed Care Organizations working group.
Greenlee’s work for Sebelius paid off when the state insurance commissioner was elected governor of Kansas in 2002. Greenlee moved to the governor’s office to serve as Sebelius’ chief of staff, but this lasted only six months, before Sebelius reorganized her staff and moved Greenlee to director of operations in July 2003. This move only proved temporary as well, for in November 2003, Greenlee shifted over to the Kansas Department on Aging to become assistant secretary and serving as legislative liaison and chief budget officer.
Less than a year later she was selected to run the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, which advocates for residents of long-term care facilities. Under Greenlee’s leadership, the office expanded its number of paid and volunteer workers.
Her last stop in Kansas state government was at the Department on Aging, which she took over as the Secretary of Aging in January 2006. As a member of Sebelius’ cabinet, Greenlee managed a state agency with a staff of 187 and a budget of $497 million. The department oversees the administration of Older American’s Act programs, distribution of Medicaid payments for nursing home residents, and regulation of nursing home licenses.
While serving as Secretary of Aging, Greenlee participated on the boards of directors for the Kansas Health Policy Authority and KansasWorks. She also served on the Health & Human Services sub-cabinet and on the State Employee Compensation Oversight Committee.
Greenlee’s other activities have included serving as co-chair of Equality Kansas, a gay and lesbian rights organization; on the executive committee (2002-2006) and as chair (2004-2006) of the Douglas County Democratic Party in Lawrence, Kansas; on the board of directors (1997-2002) and as president (2000-2002) of the Housing and Credit Counseling Inc. of Topeka; on the U.S. Attorney’s Hate Crimes Task Force (representing the district of Kansas, 1999-2000); and on the board of directors (1992-1997) and as president (1995-1996) of the Women Attorneys Association of Topeka.
Greenlee was sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Aging on June 29, 2009.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Biography (Kansas Department of Aging) (PDF)


Beverly Morneault 9 years ago
To get right to the point, my question is about social security. Instead of citing the rules, I will give an example. My husband and I are divorced after 24 years. We have two adult children; we had two businesses, now closed. His social security checks are around $1800/mo. and mine are $1000/mo.. I believe that the total of $2800 that we are now receiving be divided equally, $1400 each, just as the assets in the divorce are divided equally. I'm sure it is not as easy as I would like it to be to put this in place, however, in situations similar to mine where women have worked as hard in their marriage, in their joint businesses, in the home and with the children, why do the spouses receive half?

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