Dr. Mandy Cohen, who has led North Carolina's response to the coronavirus pandemic, will resign at the end of the year, the governor's office said Tuesday.

Cohen has served as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services since 2017. She's become a household name across the state, appearing alongside Gov. Roy Cooper to give regular updates on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve this state at such an important moment in history,” Cohen said in a statement. “I am grateful for Governor Cooper’s leadership, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished to improve the health and well-being of the state over the last five years.”

Cooper appointed Kody Kinsley, currently the department's chief deputy secretary for health and lead for coronavirus operations, to take over running the department on Jan. 1, according to the governor's office.

“Mandy Cohen has shown extraordinary leadership during her tenure and she has worked every day during this pandemic to help keep North Carolinians healthy and safe,” Cooper said in a statement announcing Cohen's departure.

“We are stronger because of her efforts and I am enormously grateful for her service. She has built a remarkable team of talented people including Kody Kinsley, and I know he will continue the strong legacy of competence, effectiveness and efficiency as he takes over as Secretary,” the governor said.

Cohen and her team have overseen the state's coronavirus response since the virus first reached North Carolina in March 2020. She was the face of the state's response through lockdowns, mask mandates and the biggest vaccination campaign in history.

"The last two years have been quite a marathon," Cohen said at a news conference Tuesday. She said she plans to take some time off and consider her next move.

"A bit of rest and recovery is what’s in store for me next," she said.

The Department of Health and Human Services has 17,000 employees and a $20 billion annual budget. Cohen's department does a lot more than responding to the COVID pandemic. She oversees the state's Medicaid program, mental health, state hospitals, early childhood education, adult and child services and other social services.

Kinsley has been with the department for four years and has helped lead North Carolina's response to the COVID pandemic. He will still have to be confirmed by the North Carolina Senate.

The Wilmington native will be North Carolina's first openly gay cabinet secretary, according to the governor's office.