Guttmacher Institute President and CEO, Dr. Herminia Palacio, Elected to the National Academy of Medicine

New York City, October 9, 2023 — The Guttmacher Institute is thrilled to announce the election of its President and CEO, Dr. Herminia Palacio, to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (NAM). This election is a testament to Dr. Palacio’s outstanding professional accomplishments and unwavering commitment to health and medicine. Membership in NAM represents one of the highest honors attainable in these fields, as it recognizes individuals who have made substantial contributions to the advancement of medical sciences, health care and public health throughout their careers. 

NAM members commit to volunteer their expertise and service to activities on behalf of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, further emphasizing their dedication to the betterment of health care and medicine. Dr. Palacio has been specifically acknowledged for her remarkable work in advancing health care delivery in the United States through her leadership roles in nonprofit organizations, government, philanthropy and academia. 

“It is my honor to welcome this truly exceptional class of new members to the National Academy of Medicine,” said NAM President Victor J. Dzau. “Their contributions to health and medicine are unparalleled, and their leadership and expertise will be essential to helping the NAM tackle today’s urgent health challenges, inform the future of health care and ensure health equity for the benefit of all around the globe.” 

“I am profoundly honored and humbled to be elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine,” said Dr. Palacio. “I have long admired the Academy’s work and its invaluable contributions. I am excited to join this exceptional group of experts to further the field of medicine and promote health equity, including in access to abortion and other reproductive health care, within our nation.” 

“On behalf of the Guttmacher Institute Board of Directors, I offer congratulations and best wishes to the Institute’s President and CEO, Dr. Herminia Palacio, upon her election to the National Academy of Medicine,” said Pamela Merritt, Chair of the Guttmacher Institute’s Board of Directors and Executive Director at Medical Students for Choice. “Dr. Palacio’s career chronicles her deep commitment to public health, and I’m certain that the National Academy of Medicine will benefit from her expertise.” 

“Dr. Palacio’s election to the National Academy of Medicine is a well-deserved honor,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest municipal health care system in the United States. “Dr. Palacio has an exceptional track record of public service, academic accomplishment and contributions to the advancement of health equity. It’s heartening to see her transformative work and dedication acknowledged by the Academy, and I look forward to her future achievements.” 

“Dr. Palacio is a fearless leader for health and equity and a trusted colleague,” said Dr. Lisa Simpson, President and CEO of AcademyHealth, a prominent national organization dedicated to advancing health services research and health policy. “In her diverse roles as a public health official, President and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, and now as a newly inducted member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Palacio channels her passion to address the desperate need for safe and accessible health care for all, including reproductive health care, both nationally and globally.” 

“Dr. Palacio is an extraordinary leader in public health who has done amazing work at Guttmacher over the past several years. It is a great pleasure to welcome her into the National Academies,” said Dr. Lynne Richardson, Mount Sinai Endowed Professor of Emergency Medicine and Health Equity Science, and Founding Co-Director of the Institute for Health Equity Research. 

Dr. Palacio boasts a distinguished career as a public health expert, accumulating more than three decades of experience spanning multiple sectors. Her expertise encompasses academic and clinical medicine, governmental public health and philanthropy. 

Before joining the Guttmacher Institute, Dr. Palacio was New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. In this capacity, she orchestrated transformation efforts across the city’s public health and health care system. She oversaw 11 city agencies and mayoral offices with a total budget of $24 billion, dedicated to safeguarding the health and well-being of all New Yorkers. 

Notably, Dr. Palacio held the position of Executive Director of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services in Texas for a decade. This agency serves more than four million residents, including the city of Houston. 

During the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina mega-shelter operation in 2005, Dr. Palacio played a pivotal role as the Medical Branch Director. She was responsible for overseeing public health and health care delivery emergency response operations for 27,000 evacuees from the New Orleans area. Her exceptional contributions during this crisis earned her the 2007 Excellence in Health Administration Award from the American Public Health Association. 

In addition to her leadership roles, Dr. Palacio served as the Director of Advancing Change Leadership at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In that capacity, she was responsible for developing and implementing innovative health leadership programs. Dr. Palacio’s commitment to health care extends to her clinical practice, to which she dedicated almost two decades, including nearly 15 years at San Francisco General Hospital during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

Dr. Palacio earned 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 Bachelor of Arts in biology from Barnard College at Columbia University. 

Established initially as the Institute of Medicine in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine plays a vital role in addressing critical issues in health, science, medicine and related policy. It inspires positive actions across sectors and collaborates closely with the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation. NAM also conducts other activities aimed at solving complex problems and informing public policy decisions. These esteemed Academies actively promote education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge and enhance public understanding of STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine). 


About Guttmacher Institute:  

Founded in 1968, the Guttmacher Institute is a leading research and policy organization dedicated to advancing sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice in the United States and globally. Guttmacher envisions and works toward a future in which all people can realize their rights and access the resources necessary to attain sexual and reproductive health. We conduct our work with an equity lens to eliminate health disparities and promote reproductive freedom and autonomy. 

Rooted in the belief that sound policy starts with high-quality, credible research, Guttmacher combines rigorous scientific investigation with sophisticated advocacy and communications, with the aim of bringing about evidence-based policies and programs. Our unique program of research, policy analysis and strategic communications has been the catalyst for policy and program change for over 50 years—from our early efforts to help create the Title X national family planning program to our successful campaign for insurance coverage of contraceptives without cost-sharing in the Affordable Care Act. 

Media Contact