Mara Powell

Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates

Every Kentucky kid and family won yesterday when Governor Beshear officially appointed Eric Friedlander as Secretary of the Cabinet of Health and Family Services.

I have had the opportunity to work with and frankly assess more than a half dozen Cabinet Secretaries.  The formula for success – or the recipe for failure – is pretty clear. The Secretary has to be accessible and responsive to big ideas and to emerging crises. The Secretary has to have the security to surround himself/herself with a strong and talented senior team which can speak the truth. While the Secretary has to be skilled in the political arena, the foundation of CHFS’s work must be research-based and not beset by poll numbers. Secretary Friedlander exemplifies those standards.

And he goes beyond them in two ways. First, we are especially thankful that he has such a deep understanding of trauma-informed care. In these unprecedented times, building resiliency in the Commonwealth is an imperative and the Secretary knows that arena as well as anyone in the nation.  That knowledge base cannot be discounted.

Moreover, Eric brings his heart as well as his head to this leadership position. When I talk to him about a problem for kids or for families, he doesn’t just think about it; he doesn’t just act on it. He feels it. And that perhaps is the most significant quality of all that he will bring to this vital position.


About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at