Advancing the Vaccine Law Dialogue

Pre-conference: September 13 Washington, D.C.

Secretary Donna Shalala

Secretary Donna Shalala, PhD

Trustee Professor of Political Science and Health Policy at the University of Miami


Donna E. Shalala is Trustee Professor of Political Science and Health Policy at the University of Miami. Dr. Shalala has more than 40 years of experience as an accomplished scholar, teacher, and administrator.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Shalala received her A.B. degree in history from Western College for Women. One of the country’s first Peace Corps Volunteers, she served in Iran from 1962 to 1964. She earned her Ph.D. degree from The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She has held tenured professorships at Columbia University, the City University of New York (CUNY), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  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.

She served as President of the University of Miami from 2001 to 2015. During her tenure, UM solidified its position among top U.S. research universities. The University’s two successful Momentum campaigns raised $3 billion in private support for the university’s endowment, academic and research programs and facilities. While on leave from the University of Miami, Dr. Shalala served as President of the Clinton Foundation from June 2015 to March 2017.

In 1993 President Bill Clinton appointed her U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) where she served for eight years, becoming the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history. At the end of her tenure, a Washington Post article described her as “one of the most successful government managers of modern times.” In 2008 the Council on Excellence in Government named her one of the greatest public servants of the past 25 years.

She served in the Carter administration from 1977 to 1980 as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

In 2007, President George W. Bush handpicked Shalala to co-chair with Senator Bob Dole the Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors, to evaluate how wounded service members transition from active duty to civilian society. In 2009 she was appointed chair of the Committee on the Future of Nursing at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Most recently, she was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force on The Emerging Global Health Crisis. She was elected to the Council on Foreign Relations in 1982.

Dr. Shalala has more than four dozen honorary degrees and a host of other honors, including the 1992 National Public Service Award and the 1994 Glamour magazine Woman of the Year Award. In 1992 BusinessWeek named her one of the top five managers in higher education and U.S. News & World Report named her one of “America’s Best Leaders” in 2005. In 2008 President Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, and in 2010 she received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, which recognizes individuals for outstanding dedication to improving the health and life chances of disadvantaged populations in South Africa and internationally.  

In 2011 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York, and in 2014 she was recognized by the Harry S. Truman Library with the Harry S. Truman Legacy of Leadership Award and received the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s highest honor, the Sand in My Shoes Award, for her significant contributions to the community.

One of the most honored academics of her generation, Shalala has been elected to seven national academies: National Academy of Education; the National Academy of Public Administration; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the American Philosophical Society; the National Academy of Social Insurance; the American Academy of Political and Social Science; and the National Academy of Medicine.