Dempsey Benton is the choice to succeed Carmen Hooker Odom as North Carolina's secretary of health and human services.
Benton will oversee the state's second largest department in terms of state spending.
The agency manages Medicaid, mental health and substance abuse programs and oversees social services offices and public health initiatives.
Odom announced two weeks ago she would step down in August and join a New York-based health research foundation. Benton was a former chief deputy in the state's Division of Environment and Natural Resources.
One of his last jobs was leading a special task force examining North Carolina's hazardous material storage laws following a massive fire at an Apex warehouse in October.
The panel's recommendations either were implemented by Governor Easley or are being considered by the General Assembly.
Benton was Raleigh's city manager for 17 years.