May the (Work) Force Be with You

Thursday, August 16th
1:30pm – 3:00pm

A robust, health care workforce enables states to ensure accessible, affordable, and high-quality health care. However, workforce and population demographics are changing and posing new challenges. As innovation in health care and an aging population increase the need for services, states face critical shortages of nurses, doctors, and other professionals, especially in rural areas. This session highlights how states are working across public and private sectors to leverage resources and use data and technology to address critical health care workforce shortages.


Dr. Norman Thurston, Representative, Utah State Legislature
Director, Office of Health Care Statistics, Utah Department of Health

Norm Thurston

Dr. Thurston has a Masters and Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University. Dr. Thurston has been a policy analyst and health economist for the Utah Department of Health in various roles for 15 years, including work on health systems reform. Currently, he is the Director of the Office of Health Care Statistics

Before joining the state, Dr. Thurston worked for eight years as an assistant professor of economics at Brigham Young University.

In 2014, Dr. Thurston was elected to the Utah House of Representatives.



Frederick Payne, Commissioner, Indiana Department of Workforce Development

Fred Payne was appointed Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development in November 2017 and assumed his new role a month later. He leads DWD’s Executive Team in developing, communicating, executing and sustaining the agency’s strategic initiatives, including establishment of key performance indicators.

Mr. Payne came to DWD from Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, LLC (HMIN), where he served as Chief Administrator, Secretary and Compliance Officer, after being General Counsel and Manager of Corporate Affairs.
Prior to Honda Mr. Payne was in private practice.


Dawn Hunter, Deputy Cabinet Secretary, New Mexico Department of Health

Dawn Hunter is a Deputy Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Health. In this role, she has oversight of four program areas, including Public Health, Epidemiology and Response, the State Laboratory, and Health Facilities Licensing and Oversight. Dawn is the former Policy Director and continues to oversee the policy office. Dawn first joined the New Mexico Department of Health as a Visiting Attorney in Public Health Law through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Visiting Attorney Program. Prior to this, Dawn was a microbiologist in the Advanced Biosensors Laboratory in the Center for Biological Defense at the University of South Florida, specializing in the rapid detection of food- and waterborne pathogens. Dawn also has experience in residential foster care, child protective services, and foster care adoptions. Dawn has an AB in English Literature from Princeton University, a BS in Microbiology and an MPH in Global Communicable Disease from the University of South Florida, and a JD from Stetson University College of Law. She is a member of the Florida Bar, and is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners.

Lauren Block, Program Director, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices

Lauren Block serves as program director for the NGA Center for Best Practices’ Health Division. Block focuses on issues related to health insurance coverage, health care workforce planning, rural health, and data.Prior to joining NGA, Block served as director of the Division of Eligibility & Enrollment Policy & Operations at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as special assistant to the director of the Office of Communications at CMS. Block also served as an analyst at the Hearing, Policy and Presentations Group and the Program Integrity Group at CMS and as research associate for the Gerontological Society of America.


Marschall Smith