CMS Leadership

Office of Communications

Mary Wallace

Acting Director & Deputy Director for Operations

Mary Wallace is the Deputy Director for Operations of the Office of Communications (OC) within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. OC serves as the focal point for strategic and tactical communications for CMS programs delivering healthcare to millions of Americans. Ms. Wallace provides leadership over daily operations and executive direction in the areas of program analysis, customer service, acquisition strategy and financial management.

Ms. Wallace has been with CMS since 1999. She began her career in the Center for Beneficiary Services working on project planning and financial management for the implementation of the National Medicare Education Program. She subsequently led a variety of projects including the implementation of a Knowledge Management web portal for the agency.

Prior to her current role, Ms. Wallace served as the Deputy Director in the Office of Beneficiary Services, providing leadership in the areas of financial analysis and contract management. Ms. Wallace also led several special projects which improved the performance and efficiency of CMS’ customer service programs.

Karen Aldana

Deputy Director for Communications

Karen Aldana serves as the Deputy Director, Office of Communications for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. In her current position, she is Washington D.C. based and is responsible for driving the vision and overall strategy of the public relations function, which includes teams across several OC groups.

Prior to joining CMS, Ms. Aldana served as the Public Affairs Director, Office of Communications and Consumer Information for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) where she was responsible for overseeing the agency’s strategic communication and media outreach efforts. She led and coordinated communications for technically complex issues with large national and international media and public interest. The division was responsible for representing and promoting the safety agency, its policies and safety programs.

Before NHTSA, Ms. Aldana served as a Public Affairs Specialist for the U.S. DOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA). During her tenure there, she was responsible for promoting transit projects across the nation. Most notably, FTA’s Lower Manhattan Recovery program, aimed at expediently fixing the transit systems destroyed in New York City in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.  

Before moving to Washington D.C., Ms. Aldana worked in New York City as an Account Executive at RLM Public Relations, and prior to that, ExcitePR, promoting a wide-range of clients, including start-up companies, grassroots organizations, authors and products. She was in New York City on 9/11 and experienced first-hand the fear, devastation and toll it had on the city. Her experience inspired her to pursue a career with the federal government to serve the public.

Ms. Aldana holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. 

OC Functional Statement

  • Serves as CMS's focal point for internal and external strategic and tactical communications providing leadership for CMS in the areas of customer service; website operations; traditional and new media including web initiatives such as social media supported by innovative, increasingly mobile technologies; media relations; call center operations, consumer materials; public information campaigns; and, public engagement.
  • Serves as senior advisor to the Administrator in all activities related to the media. Provides consultation, advice, and training to CMS's senior staff with respect to relations with the news media.
  • Coordinates with external partners including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the White House on key communication and public engagement initiatives, leveraging CMS resources to strategically support these activities.
  • Contributes to the formulation of policies, programs, and systems as related to strategic and tactical communications.
  • Coordinates with the Office of Legislation on the development and advancement of new legislative initiatives and improvements.
  • Oversees communications research, design and development, evaluation and continuous improvement activities for improving internal and external communication tools, including but not limited to brochures, public information campaigns, handbooks, websites, reports, presentations/briefings.
  • Identifies communication best practices for the benefit of CMS beneficiaries (i.e., of the Medicare and Medicaid programs) and other CMS customers.
  • Formulates and implements a customer service plan that serves as a roadmap for the effective treatment and advocacy of customers and the quality of information provided to them.  
  • Oversees beneficiary and consumer call centers and provides leadership for CMS in the area of call center operations.
  • Oversees all CMS interactions and collaborations with key stakeholders (external advocacy groups, contractors, local and State governments, HHS, the White House, other CMS components, and other Federal entities) related to the Medicare and Medicaid and other Agency programs.
  • Coordinates stakeholder relations, community outreach, and public engagement with the CMS Regional Offices.
Page Last Modified:
09/06/2023 07:10 PM