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The Alliance for a Better Utah has hired Rob DeBirk, formerly the policy director of the environmental group HEAL Utah, as its new executive director.

"Rob has the perfect background, relationships, and temperament to lead Better Utah in this next phase of our growth as an organization," said Josh Kanter, chairman of the progressive-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah.

Kanter said DeBirk would lead the group's efforts promoting the expansion of Medicaid to provide health insurance to low-income Utahns and to hold government accountable.

"I've worked with Rob on successful air-quality legislation. He brings to this position the passion and ability to work across the aisle in the effort to improve our state," said Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake.

A Utah native, DeBirk earned a masters degree from the University of Utah and began working for HEAL Utah advocating for downwinders and U.S. Senate ratification of a treaty banning nuclear testing. DeBirk's mother and aunt were both sickened by radioactive fallout from nuclear- weapons tests.

Robert Gehrke