Saying it was “simply time to go home,” North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos resigned Wednesday.

Gov. Pat McCrory named Rick Brajer, a former medical technology executive, as the new chief of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“It has been a long two years and seven months,” Wos told reporters afterward, adding that she wanted to spend time with her college-age children and her ailing mother.

Wos’ last day will be Aug. 14. Brajer reports for work the following Monday.

When Wos came into the McCrory administration, she brought both experience as a medical doctor and public service experience as a U.S. ambassador.

Brajer, 54, has an MBA from Stanford and has been a CEO for Denver-based ProNerve and Raleigh-based LipoScience, said he is “motivated as all get out” to tackle the task.

LipoScience was acquired by LabCorp in 2014.

Asked what his biggest challenge would be making the transition from the private sector to the public, Brajer said it was the number of people who had to sign off on his decisions.

“The reality is there are many more stakeholder you need to engage with,” he said. “The good news is, is that I really enjoy building relationships.”

That relationship building began almost immediately, as Brajer was taken off to meet with key lawmakers who attended the announcement Wednesday.

Spending on the Department of Health and Human Services takes up roughly a quarter of all state tax dollars put into North Carolina government and when federal funds are counted spends roughly $20 billion per year. Brajer mentioned the realties of dealing with one of the biggest and fastest growing departments after being introduced by McCrory.

“By any standard, our state cares about its most vulnerable citizens,” he said. “The challenge is, that the growth in need for those services is really crowding out our needed investment in other areas as well, hence the need for reform.”

Both McCrory and lawmakers have proposed changing the Medicaid system that provides health insurance for the poor and disabled, but the governor’s plan varies drastically with the Senate. Lawmakers say Brajer’s appointment will not slow down their push toward reform.

“I think we’ll continue to move at the pace that we can but we’ll make sure they’re well informed of all the steps that we’re taking,” Hise said.

Like Wos, Brajer is the son of immigrants to the country. His family came from Yugoslavia on a trip sponsored by the Lutheran Church, and several times during his remarks Brajer mentioned his faith, as when he mentioned moving to North Carolina.

“I believe by faith it is God’s providence that my family and I were brought here 12 years ago,” he said.

Brajer called his private sector experience “a strength” that would help him manage the 17,000-employee department.

“The good news is that it doesn’t rely just on my talents and my capabilities,” he said. “You have a department of 17,000 people with a lot of deep experience.”

Credit: Reporting by Mark Binker and Matt Burns