FL-27: Donna Shalala (D)
PROFILE

November 1, 2020 by TWN Staff

About Shalala:

Donna E. Shalala has spent her entire life fighting to improve the lives of others. A lifelong Democrat, she has advocated tirelessly for women’s rights, civil rights, increased access to health care, better education and schools and a clean, sustainable environment.

Shalala was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Her grandparents were migrants from Lebanon and moved to the United States to pursue the American Dream. 

Shalala received her degree in history from Western College for Women and earned her Ph.D. from The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She served as president of Hunter College of the City University of New York from 1980 to 1987 and as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987 to 1993.

President Carter tapped Shalala to serve as the assistant secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. One of her major accomplishments was placing the first solar panels on the roof of the White House.

Shalala was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as the secretary of Health and Human Services where she served for eight years, becoming the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history. During her tenure at HHS she fought to create, implement and oversee the Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program, currently covering over 7.6 million children throughout the country as well as doubling the budget of the National Institute of Health and securing the highest immunization rates in American history.

From 2001 to 2015 Shalala served as the president of the University of Miami. During her tenure, UM solidified its position among top U.S. research universities. She continues to serve as the trustee professor of Political Science and Health Policy at the University of Miami.

In 2007, President George W. Bush handpicked Shalala to co-chair with Senator Bob Dole on the Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors, to evaluate how wounded service members transition from active duty to civilian society. In 2008, President George W. Bush awarded Shalala the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor where she was recognized for her, “leadership and determination to ensure that all Americans can enjoy lives of hope, promise and dignity.”

While on a leave of absence from the University of Miami, Donna served as president of the Clinton Foundation from June 2015 to March 2017. This position allowed her to continue working towards improving global health, increasing opportunity for girls and women, reducing childhood obesity and preventable diseases, creating economic opportunity and growth both at home and abroad, and helping address the effects of climate change.

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