Meet the Co-Chairs of the Coalition:

Honorable Alex M. Azar II and Donna Shalala

The Honorable Alex M. Azar II

24th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Alex Azar has extensive healthcare experience in the senior-most levels of the U.S. government and the private sector that gives him a unique perspective and background.  He has committed his professional career to protecting and enhancing the health of all Americans. 

Azar served as the 24th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2018-2021), leading over 85,000 employees with a budget of over $1.4 trillion, the largest budget of any cabinet department on Earth.  He was the architect of Operation Warp Speed, delivering COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics in record time.  He led the historic transformation of the healthcare system in the United States and HHS’s response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.  He drove U.S. Government efforts to tackle the opioid crisis, increase private insurance options, bring transparency of price and quality information to healthcare, expand telehealth, give patients ownership of their health records and make those records interoperable and transportable, enable healthcare provider collaborative care models, remove regulatory barriers to low-cost, high-quality care, transform payment systems to pay for health and outcomes rather than sickness and procedures, reduce drug prices, and transform kidney care for the first time in almost 50 years.  Azar also led key public health initiatives such as banning flavored e-cigarettes, reducing youth tobacco use by nearly one-third in one year and youth e-cigarette use by 54% in three years, creating and implementing the program to end the HIV epidemic in America in 10 years, preparing for and responding to public health threats, crafting the first rural health initiative to improve access and quality of care, and launching a program to reduce dramatically maternal mortality.  Azar has played significant roles on the global health stage, leading many of the U.S.’s global health security efforts, representing the U.S. in the World Health Assembly, working with the WHO to end Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, chairing the most active G7 health ministerial in history in 2020, and convening and leading western hemisphere coordinated efforts to assist with the Venezuelan refugee crisis.

Azar served for five years (2012-2017) as president of Lilly USA, LLC, the largest affiliate of global biopharmaceutical leader Eli Lilly and Company, producing over $10 billion in revenue (2016).  Azar previously was vice president of Lilly’s U.S. Managed Healthcare Services and Puerto Rico from 2009-2011. He joined Lilly in 2007 as senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications.  

Before his tenure at Lilly, Azar was the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2005-2007), where he was the number two official and chief operating officer.  From 2001-2005, he served HHS as General Counsel. 

Azar earned a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in government and economics from Dartmouth College in 1988, and a law degree from Yale University in 1991.  After law school, he clerked for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Secretary Azar is currently an advisor to Foresite Capital, sits on several corporate boards and advisory boards, is a part-time Adjunct Professor of Business and Senior Executive-in-Residence at the University of Miami Herbert Business School, is represented by the Washington Speakers Bureau, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Institute, the Aspen Institute’s Health Strategy Group, the American Task Force On Lebanon’s Policy Advisory Board, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Future of Health Care Advisory Group, the advisory board of the National Institute for Healthcare Management Foundation, and the Healthcare Leadership Council.  Azar previously served on the boards of HMS Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: HMSY), the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), the Healthcare Leadership Council, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Indianapolis Airport Authority, the American Council on Germany, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. 

Donna Shalala

Donna E. Shalala is a distinguished scholar and educator and current Trustee Professor of Political Science and Health Policy at the University of Miami. One of the most honoured academic leaders of her generation, she has been elected to seven national academies, including the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Education, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

She served as President of Hunter College; Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and President of the University of Miami.

Professor Shalala is one of the country’s first Peace Corps Volunteers (Iran). Her public service also includes serving as Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration for eight years. In 2008 President George W. Bush selected her as the Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, the nation’s highest civilian award. She was 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), and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame (2011).

Professor Shalala received her A.B. from Western College for Women and her PhD from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.


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