HELENA — The leader of one of Montana’s largest state agencies will be stepping down later this summer.

Gov. Greg Gianforte’s administration announced in a statement Thursday morning that Adam Meier, the director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, will leave his role on August 12, citing an “ongoing family health issue.” He will be replaced by Charlie Brereton, currently DPHHS chief of staff and a health care policy advisor for Gianforte.

“I am grateful to Governor Gianforte for the opportunity to lead an amazing team of dedicated public servants working to improve service to Montana’s most vulnerable populations,” Director Meier said. “Despite navigating many challenges, I am proud of what we’ve accomplished during the first 18 months of the Gianforte administration. DPHHS is well positioned to continue addressing issues that have long plagued the health and human services ecosystem here in Montana. While this is an unexpected turn in my tenure as director, I have the utmost confidence that our progress will continue under Charlie’s leadership.”

Meier had previously led Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services before coming to DPHHS. In the statement, the administration praised Meier’s work in Montana, including on substance abuse and mental health treatment, assessing state-run facilities, studying provider rates and implementing of House Bill 702 – the state’s new law prohibiting discrimination based on vaccine status.

“Adam’s expertise, leadership, and heart for public service have been outstanding assets to our administration and the people of Montana,” Gianforte said. “Under Adam’s leadership, DPHHS has closed critical gaps in treatment for Montanans struggling with addiction, reorganized itself to better serve the people of Montana, and promoted the role of parents as the ultimate decisionmakers on matters pertaining to the health of their children – all while leading the state’s response to a global pandemic. I appreciate his many contributions and innovative ideas.”

According to the statement, Brereton previously worked for several members of Congress and on national health care issues, before becoming Gianforte’s advisor on health care matters in January 2021. In December 2021, he became DPHHS chief of staff, the second in command at the agency.

“It’s an honor to serve the people of Montana as director of DPHHS and build upon the progress we’ve made to efficiently and effectively serve Montanans, expand their access to high-quality, affordable health care, and promote their health, well-being, self-reliance, and freedoms,” Brereton said in the statement. “Our work has only begun, and I look forward to driving the administration’s health and human services objectives alongside our dedicated team at the department.”