The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced Thursday that Catherine Heigel, who has served as the agency’s director for two years, will be stepping down.
Heigel will rejoin the accounting and business advisory firm of Elliott Davis Decosimo as COO beginning in August.
"Catherine was instrumental in our strategic growth and we are thrilled to welcome her back to Elliott Davis," said Rick Davis, Elliott Davis Decosimo managing shareholder.
Heigel became director of DHEC in June 2015. During her tenure, Heigel led the agency in adopting its first strategic plan since 2005. She initiated major modernizations of critical systems and processes and worked to promote transparency in the agency's operations.
Under her direction, DHEC privatized its home health business, which resulted in continued employment for affected agency employees, uninterrupted care for its clients, and a financial gain for the state of South Carolina of $17.5 million. She promoted the recently launched the SC Adopt-a-Stream program with Clemson University to empower citizen volunteers to help monitor water quality in the state's lakes, rivers and streams. Heigel also managed major public health and environmental emergencies for the agency, including the flooding of 2015 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
"Catherine has been an exceptional leader for DHEC and we are grateful for the time she has taken to serve our state. She set a clear vision for the agency, built a talented executive leadership team, and instituted key fiscal, operational and governance protocols that will ensure the agency's continued success into the future," said Allen Amsler, DHEC board chairman. "Catherine's passion and commitment to the employees and mission of DHEC will be greatly missed," Amsler said.
Beginning Aug. 5, David E. Wilson will serve as DHEC's acting director until the board can complete interviews for a permanent replacement. Wilson has been with DHEC for 34 years serving in various roles, including most recently n the role of senior director of legislative affairs on the executive leadership team.
"It is the board's intent to retain an outside firm to begin a nationwide search in the coming months for the next DHEC director and to continue the positive momentum at the agency," Amsler said.