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Utah Gov. Cox Names First Chief Innovation Officer

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has named Department of Health Executive Director Rich Saunders as the state's first chief innovation officer. In his new role, Saunders will focus on improving responsiveness to residents.

Utah Capitol
Earlier today, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox named Rich Saunders, the state’s executive director of the Utah Department of Health, as the state’s first chief innovation officer.

In his new role, Saunders will work alongside the governor to upgrade government efficiencies, innovations and responsiveness to Utah residents.

“I have such respect and gratitude for the job Rich has done during the state’s pandemic response,” Gov. Cox said in a press release. “As we worked closely together, I saw how he counseled, streamlined processes and guided his team through some very rough waters. As chief innovation officer, he will bring that same creative energy and collaborative approach to all of state government.”

Prior to being the executive director of the Department of Health, Saunders worked as a Medicaid consultant for the department in 2015. In 2017, he joined the agency’s executive leadership team, and in August 2020, he was appointed as interim executive director of the Department of Health. Six months later, he was named executive director.

“State government touches people’s lives in so many ways, and I support Gov. Cox’s vision to improve and innovate,” Saunders said in the release. “I’m humbled by the trust he has placed in me, and I’m invigorated by this new challenge to improve how we serve Utahns and engage them in the process.”

On June 21, Saunders will officially begin his new role as chief innovation officer.
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