Donna E. Shalala has spent her entire life fighting to improve the lives of others. A lifelong Democrat, she has advocated tirelessly for women’s rights, civil rights, increased access to health care, better education and schools, and a clean, sustainable environment. Donna was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Her grandparents were migrants from Lebanon and moved to the United States to pursue the American dream. Donna understands firsthand the hard work and dedication that define the lives of immigrants trying to provide a better life for their family, as her grandparents and parents did for her and her twin sister. Donna received her degree in history from Western College for Women and earned her Ph.D. from The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She served as president of Hunter College of the City University of New York from 1980 to 1987 and as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987 to 1993.
President Carter tapped Donna to serve as the assistant secretary for policy development and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Donna was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), where she served for eight years, becoming the longest serving HHS secretary in U.S. history. During her tenure at HHS, Donna fought to create, implement, and oversee the Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program, currently covering over 7.6 million children throughout the country. From 2001 to 2015, Donna served as the President of the University of Miami. During her tenure, UM solidified its position among top U.S. research universities and raised billions of dollars in private support for student scholarships, academic and research programs, and facilities. She continues to serve as the trustee professor of political science and health policy at the University of Miami.
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