Congresswoman Shalala began her career in public service as one of the country’s first Peace Corps volunteers in Iran. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter tapped her to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In 1993, Congresswoman Shalala was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), where she created, implemented, and oversaw the Children’s Health Insurance Program, currently covering over 7.6 million children. She also succeeded in doubling the budget of the National Institute of Health and secured the highest immunization rates in American history. At the end of her eight-year tenure at HHS, a Washington Post article described her as “one of the most successful government managers of modern times.”
In 2007, President George W. Bush hand-picked her to co-chair with Senator Bob Dole the Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors, tasked with evaluating how wounded service members transition from active duty to civilian life. In 2008, President Bush selected her as the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Congresswoman Shalala has been named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report (2005), received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights (2010), was inducted into the National Woman’s Hall of Fame (2011), and has more than five dozen honorary degrees.
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.
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.