Belhaven native named Department of Commerce Secretary

Published 4:01 pm Friday, February 12, 2021

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From the Office of Gov. Roy Cooper

RALEIGH – Today, Governor Roy Cooper announced that Belhaven native Machelle Sanders, current Secretary of the NC Department of Administration, will now serve as Secretary of the Department of Commerce. Sanders will replace Tony Copeland who stepped down at the end of January.

“Machelle has been an outstanding leader in this administration, and I am grateful that she is willing to take on this new role and continue to serve our great state,” said Gov. Cooper. “Her strong background as a business leader and her extensive knowledge of what it takes to build a globally competitive workforce will serve North Carolina well as we attract better paying jobs, help small businesses and stimulate our innovation and entrepreneurial economy.”

“I am humbled and excited about leading the NC Department of Commerce at this critical time in our state’s history. In this role, I plan to execute on a bold vision for economic restoration and progress for our state and its people in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sec. Sanders. “My top priority is to marry innovation and strong leadership to create promising conditions for economic recovery and opportunity. Expanding workforce development initiatives is essential to helping North Carolina attract and keep jobs that not only help people fulfill basic needs, but also provide them with the ability to start and sustain businesses of their own. Collaboration with economic development partners, community stakeholders, higher education networks, and affinity groups will help to transform the enormous economic possibilities for rural areas and groups marginalized from enjoying in the promise of economic growth and prosperity. Building a strong team of dedicated public servants and experts, and creating a culture of equity, inclusion, and excellence will ensure that the agency remains committed to these goals. I look forward to leading with purpose to achieve results consistent with Governor Cooper’s promise to make this a state that works for everyone.”

Most recently, Sanders served as Secretary of the Department of Administration. Gov. Cooper appointed her to the position on January 12, 2017.

A graduate of North Carolina State University, Sanders holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and a Master of Health Administration from Pfeiffer University.

Sec. Sanders is a native of Belhaven, North Carolina and brings strong business experience in both management and leadership to the Commerce Department. She is a seasoned pharmaceutical and biotechnology executive and previously held the role of vice president of manufacturing and general manager of Biogen’s largest manufacturing facility in Research Triangle Park (RTP). She also held leadership positions overseeing manufacturing, global quality assurance and quality control functions at Biogen and Diosynth-Akzo Nobel. While at Biogen, Sec. Sanders created a Women’s Innovation Network.

Sec. Sanders is a strong supporter of diversity and inclusion and serves as the Chair of the North Carolina Commission on Inclusion, the North Carolina Complete Count Commission and the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force. Additionally, she serves on the Interagency Council for Coordinating Homeless Programs (ICCHP), Commission of Indian Affairs and the NC State University Board of Visitors.

Deputy Secretary Mark Edwards will serve as interim Secretary of the NC Department of Administration.