- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has appointed Richard Whitley as the permanent director of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Sandoval announced Monday that he was appointing Whitley to lead the 5,500-employee department.

Whitley has served as interim director of the department since February and previously worked as an administrator in the state’s mental health and public health divisions. He began working for the state in 1986 as a prison psychologist.

Sandoval called Whitley a “steady and capable leader” and said making him the permanent director would ensure continuity in the department. Former department chief Mike Willden left in June 2014 to work as Sandoval’s chief of staff.

The department has an annual budget of more than $4.5 billion counting state and federal funds.

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