Donna Shalala2000 Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow

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    Donna Shalala is President of the University of Miami and was the longest serving Secretary of Health and Human Services in U.S. history. She joined the Clinton Administration in January 1993 to lead the federal government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services. As Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987-1993, she was the first woman to head a Big Ten University and was named by Business Week as one of the five best managers in higher education. During her tenure at the University of Wisconsin, she helped to raise over $400 million for the university’s endowment and spearheaded a $225 million state-private partnerships program to renovate and add to the university’s research facilities. Prior to that, Dr. Shalala served as president of Hunter College for eight years, and as an Assistant Secretary at HUD during the Carter Administration. From 1975-1977, she served as Treasurer of New York City’s Municipal Assistance Corporation. A leading scholar on the political economy of state and local governments, she has also held tenured professorships at Columbia University, the City University of New York (CUNY), and the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

    Dr. Shalala earned her Ph.D. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 1970. She also served as one of the country’s first Peace Corps volunteers, in Iran, from 1962-1964.

    In Dr. Shalala’s seven years as Secretary, the Department of Health and Human Services guided the welfare reform process; made health insurance available to an estimated 3.3 million children through the approval of 50 state and territory Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP); raised child immunization rates to the highest levels in history; led the fight against young peoples’ use of tobacco; created national initiatives to fight breast cancer, racial and ethnic health disparities and violence against women; and crusaded for better access and better medications to treat AIDS. At the end of her tenure as HHS Secretary, theWashington Post described her as “one of the most successful government managers of modern times.” In 2007, President George W. Bush chose Shalala and Bob Dole to lead the President’s Commission On Care for America’ Returning Wounded Warriors, which was designated to better the care of wounded outpatient soldiers.

    President Shalala has more than 40 honorary degrees and a host of other honors, including the 1992 National Public Service Award, the 1994 Glamour magazine Woman of the Year Award, and in 2005 was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. In 2008, President George W. Bush presented Shalala with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She has been elected to the Council on Foreign Relations; National Academy of Education; American Philosophical Society; the National Academy of Public Administration; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the National Academy of Social Insurance; and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.