Dr. Herminia Palacio is the President and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute – a leading research and policy organization dedicated to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and globally. In this role, Dr. Palacio works to create a strong organizational culture, provide leadership and inspiration for the Guttmacher staff, and shape the Institute’s long-term vision to ensure the continued impact of its work.

Prior to joining the Guttmacher Institute, Dr. Palacio served as Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services for the City of New York. In this role, she was in charge of coordinating transformation efforts across the City’s public health and healthcare system, expanding access to social services, and ensuring that agencies serving the City’s most vulnerable populations are run compassionately, equitably, and effectively. She had oversight for eleven City agencies and mayoral offices entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers, with a total budget of $24 billion, approximately a quarter of the City’s budget.

Dr. Palacio brings more than 30 years of experience across a broad range of sectors, including academic and clinical medicine, governmental public health, and philanthropy. She previously 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. Prior to joining RWJF, she served 10 years as Executive Director of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services; a jurisdiction that provided select public services for over 4 million residents of Harris County, including the city of Houston.

Dr. Palacio is also a crisis management expert who was charged with serving as Medical Branch Director for the Hurricane Katrina Houston/Harris County Reliant Park/Astrodome mega-shelter operation in 2005. In this role, Dr. Palacio was responsible for standing up and overseeing the public health and healthcare delivery emergency response operations for 27,000 evacuees from the New Orleans area. Her work during Hurricane Katrina earned her the Excellence in Health Administration Award from the American Public Health Association in 2007.

In addition to her policy work, Dr. Palacio practiced clinical medicine for nearly 20 years, including nearly 15 years at San Francisco General Hospital during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She has also held a number of fulltime or adjunct academic appointments at medical and public health schools, including the University of Texas School of Public Health and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, as well as the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine.

Dr. Palacio received her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York a Master of Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health, and a BA in biology from Barnard College at Columbia University.