September 29, 2021 – Mary Bassett, who joined Harvard College in August 2018 as director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Middle of Well being and Human Rights at Harvard College and FXB Professor of the Apply of Well being and Human Rights at Harvard T.H. Chan Faculty of Public Well being, was named commissioner of well being of the State of New York by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Bassett will take a depart of absence from Harvard Chan Faculty beginning December 1 to imagine the brand new function. Natalia Linos, presently the FXB Middle’s govt director, will function appearing director throughout Bassett’s depart.
As New York well being commissioner, Bassett will lead the state’s pandemic response whereas advocating for the well-being of state residents and dealing to shut inhabitants well being gaps.
For Bassett, the brand new function is a homecoming on a number of ranges: A New York Metropolis native, she additionally served as the town’s well being commissioner for 4 years earlier than becoming a member of Harvard Chan Faculty.
“I’m humbled and honored to return to my dwelling state of New York to steer the Division of Well being at this pivotal time,” mentioned Bassett in a press launch from the New York governor’s workplace. “The pandemic underscored the significance of public well being, whereas additionally revealing inequities pushed by structural racism. As we transfer to finish the pandemic, we’ve a novel alternative to create a state that’s extra equitable for all New Yorkers. I look ahead to working towards this with Governor Hochul and the workforce on the Division of Well being.”
Mentioned Hochul, “Our restoration from this pandemic requires examined management and expertise to enhance well being fairness and entry throughout the state, and Dr. Bassett is completely outfitted to steer the New York State Division of Well being throughout this vital second.”
Bassett has greater than 30 years of expertise in selling well being fairness and social justice, each within the U.S. and overseas. Her profession has spanned academia, authorities, and not-for-profit work.
As commissioner of New York Metropolis’s Division of Well being and Psychological Hygiene from 2014 to 2018, Bassett labored to handle the structural racism on the root of the town’s persistent well being disparities between white New Yorkers and communities of shade, and led the Division’s response to Ebola, Legionnaires’ illness, and different illness outbreaks. Previous to serving as commissioner, Bassett was deputy commissioner since 2002. In that function, she oversaw New York Metropolis’s pioneering tobacco management interventions and meals coverage, which included the nation’s first calorie-posting necessities and trans fats restrictions. She additionally launched district public well being workplaces in a number of neighborhoods that had lengthy been harmed by racial, ethnic, and financial well being inequities, with the objective of decreasing the surplus burden of illness in these neighborhoods.
From 2009 to 2014, Bassett was program director for the Doris Duke Charitable Basis’s African Well being Initiative and Little one Effectively-Being Prevention Program.
Early in her profession, she served for 17 years on the medical college on the College of Zimbabwe, the place she developed a spread of AIDS prevention interventions. She went on to function affiliate director of well being fairness on the Rockefeller Basis’s Southern Africa Workplace, overseeing work on AIDS in Africa. Later, she served on the school of Columbia College, most lately in its Mailman Faculty of Public Well being. She has acquired quite a few awards and honors.
In a community-wide electronic mail, Harvard Chan Faculty Dean Michelle Williams wrote, “I’m extraordinarily happy with all that the FXB Middle has achieved underneath Mary’s unparalleled management, with Natalia as her co-pilot on lots of the new initiatives, and I look ahead to witnessing the middle’s continued and rising impression.” She added, “Though we’ll vastly miss Mary’s robust imaginative and prescient, deep understanding of public well being coverage, and fierce dedication to fairness, we all know that these attributes will serve her properly in her new function heading New York State’s Division of Well being, the place she is going to lead an company that harnesses the experience of greater than 5,000 colleagues to advocate for the welfare of greater than 19 million residents. All of them couldn’t be in higher fingers.”
– Karen Feldscher
picture: Kent Dayton