Lead Story

New leadership to direct
special health initiatives

Sonja Gaines

Sonja Gaines


Kara Crawford

Kara Crawford

Following the lead of the 2013 Texas Legislature, which approved budget increases for both women’s health and mental health services, Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek has added two new executive-level positions to coordinate services in those areas. 

Sonja Gaines will serve as HHSC’s first associate commissioner for mental health services, consulting and coordinating with state agencies and others to ensure a strategic statewide approach to mental health. The Legislature created the position in 2013. Gaines has worked in mental health services since 1985.

Kara Crawford is HHSC’s new director of women’s health coordination. Crawford’s mandate is to make it easier for women to get services ranging from family planning exams to cancer screenings. That involves working within and across Texas health and human services agencies to help improve coordination of those services and the way those services are promoted.