Herminia Palacio

Dr. Herminia Palacio is a distinguished leader with expertise forged across diverse organizations and geographies. Drawing from her extensive experience across government, nonprofits, private philanthropy, academia, and clinical medicine, Herminia brings a unique perspective to every challenge. Her keen ability to decipher underlying trends and harness strategic connections sets her apart as a visionary strategist and implementer. Throughout these experiences, she has demonstrated a deep commitment to equity and justice.

Herminia’s government roles underscore her capacity to navigate complex geopolitical and regulatory environments, and drive impactful change. As Special Policy Advisor to the Director of Health (San Francisco, CA) she directly influenced both local policies and state laws. During her tenure as Executive Director of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services (Harris County, TX) she oversaw the medical and public health response for over 27,000 evacuees in the role of Medical Branch Director for the Astrodome/Reliant Park Hurricane Katrina Megashelter. As Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services (New York City, NY) she oversaw the launch of NYC Care, a program that guarantees low or no cost health care for uninsured New Yorkers. In recognition of her expertise, Herminia was appointed to several Federal Advisory Act Committees, including an appointment by President Obama to the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health.

In philanthropy, as Director of Advancing Change Leadership at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Herminia was charged with merging two teams into one portfolio, and subsequently leading a major initiative to transform the Foundation’s entire approach to its leadership development programs. This initiative resulted in the sunsetting of ten single-discipline training programs and the innovative design and launch of four new cross-sector and/or multidisciplinary programs focused on team leadership approaches.

In addition to having recently served as President and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, an action-oriented think tank, Herminia has a hands-on understanding of research and data from her roles of Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator in several research projects as a faculty member in academic medicine.

Due to her broad expertise Herminia is sought after as a Board member for organizations with varied missions, such as higher education (City University of New York Board of Trustees) and multi-state urban planning (Regional Planning Association Board of Directors).

She is nationally and internationally recognized for her work. In 2023 Herminia was elected to the National Academy of Medicine. An inspirational mentor and speaker, she gave the 2019 graduation keynote for the New York University College of Global Public Health, and the 2023 convocation keynote for Barnard College, Columbia University. In 2023 she was a panelist at Global Citizen Now, a conference that gathered international attendees from private and public sectors, artist communities and political activist communities.

Herminia’s journey began in the vibrant borough of the Bronx, where her Afro-Cuban heritage and trailblazing spirit fueled her path to becoming a first-generation college graduate. She is fluent in both English and Spanish. Herminia’s origins enrich her approach, fostering inclusivity and understanding.

Blending expertise with empathy to create transformative solutions for organizations, Herminia continues her journey of innovation and impact.

LinkedIn: Herminia Palacio