Dr. Herminia Palacio is a public health emergency management expert with more than 30 years of experience across a broad range of sectors, including governmental public health; nonprofit, academic and clinical medicine; and philanthropy.
Since August of 2019, Dr. Palacio has been the President and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, a leading action-oriented think tank dedicated to producing rigorous research and policy analysis to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and globally.
Prior to joining Guttmacher, Dr. Palacio was the New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. In that role, she coordinated transformation efforts across the city’s public health and health care system, and oversaw 11 city agencies and mayoral offices that, with a combined budget of $24 billion, protect the health and well-being of all New Yorkers.
Dr. Palacio also served for 10 years as Executive Director of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services in Texas. The agency serves more than four million residents, including the city of Houston.
She was Medical Branch Director for the Hurricane Katrina mega-shelter operation in 2005. She oversaw the public health and health care delivery emergency response operations for 27,000 evacuees from the New Orleans area. Her work during Hurricane Katrina earned her the 2007 Excellence in Health Administration Award from the American Public Health Association.
In addition, Dr. Palacio has served as Director of Advancing Change Leadership at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), where she was responsible for developing and implementing new health leadership programs. She also practiced clinical medicine for almost two decades, including nearly 15 years at San Francisco General Hospital during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Dr. Palacio received her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health and a BA in Biology from Barnard College at Columbia University.
Dr. Palacio currently serves as a member of the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a National Public Health System, a working group tasked with setting a vision for the future of public health at the national, state and local levels as the country begins a gradual transition from pandemic to endemic COVID. Dr. Palacio is also a member of the City University of New York (CUNY) Board of Trustees; a member of the Regional Plan Association (RPA) Board of Directors: and she co-chairs an informal coalition of CEOs of US-based NGOs dedicated to advancing reproductive health at the global level.