Golin Harris signs healthcare expert

WASHINGTON: Golin/Harris has signed one of the Clinton administration's leading communications experts to lead its new public affairs practice group in healthcare.

WASHINGTON: Golin/Harris has signed one of the Clinton administration's leading communications experts to lead its new public affairs practice group in healthcare.

WASHINGTON: Golin/Harris has signed one of the Clinton administration's leading communications experts to lead its new public affairs practice group in healthcare.

Melissa Skolfield, assistant secretary of Public Affairs for the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will start at Golin's Arlington office later this month as a senior vice president and director of the new practice group. The initial group will consist of five people.

Golin's health practice already boasts several well-known clients, including Johnson & Johnson and Bayer.

Skolfield's recruitment acknowledges how lucrative public affairs work in healthcare will be in the Washington, DC market during the next few years. 'We believe healthcare will be one of the driving issues in the next Congress and the next administration,' said Lane Bailey, Golin's Southeast regional managing director. For example, issues such as HMO regulation and prescription-drug coverage had been overshadowed in Congress by the Clinton impeachment trial and the 2000 presidential election, but the expectation is that these issues will be taken off the back burner in the coming congressional session.

Skolfield was thought to be among the hottest potential communications recruits coming out of the Clinton administration, given her expertise on healthcare issues (PRWeek, October 16, 2000). She has spent the past five years heading communications at HHS, a position that includes overseeing public affairs professionals at agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Healthcare Financing Administration. She also has Capitol Hill experience.

Skolfield is not the only HHS communicator with a new job lined up. HHS deputy assistant secretary for Public Affairs Lynnette Williams has joined Strat@comm as a VP. Like Skolfield, a major reason for her signing was expertise in healthcare. Strat@comm principal Ron DeFore said Williams will be significantly involved in the 'further development of Strat@comm's healthcare practice.'



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