Dr. Herminia Palacio

City Hall 

New York, NY 10007

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services

Appointed Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services in January 2016, Dr. Herminia Palacio oversees the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYC Health + Hospitals, Human Resources Administration, Department of Homeless Services, Administration for Children's Services, Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Office to Combat Domestic Violence and Office of Food Policy. With 25 years of experience in a range of health and social services professions, Palacio is tasked with addressing homelessness across the five boroughs, developing a citywide network for mental health support, coordinating across the City’s public healthcare system, improving access to social services for all New Yorkers, and ensuring Agencies that oversee the City’s most vulnerable populations, such as children and victims of domestic violence, are run compassionately and effectively.

Palacio entered her new role with extensive public health experience across a broad range of sectors, including academic, government, clinical and non-profit. She most recently 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 as Executive Director of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, the local health department for more than four million people in Harris County, Texas, which includes the city of Houston.

Palacio is a crisis management expert who, as Executive Director of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, coordinated health services for 27,000 evacuees from the New Orleans area during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Running all of the public health operations for the shelter at the Houston Astrodome, Palacio established a public health department for a "city” that went from a population of 0 to 27,000 in two days, identified and contained health outbreaks before they started, and aptly managed thousands of physicians and nurses to effectively triage 150 patients an hour.  Her work during Hurricane Katrina earned Palacio the Excellence in Health Administration Award from the American Public Health Association in 2007.  Palacio also previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, where she served on the front lines combatting HIV/AIDS. Palacio’s experience and deft leadership in Harris County and San Francisco, California is nationally-recognized and demonstrates her capability in both strategic long-term planning and crisis response. Throughout a storied career, Palacio has demonstrated strong dedication to public health issues and a clear ability to respond with innovative solutions that influence national policy.

In addition to her work for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harris County, and San Francisco, Palacio has also held a number of academic appointments, including adjunct professor in Management, Policy, and Community Health at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston from 2006 to 2014. She also taught at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine. Palacio received her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and holds a Masters of Public Health, with a specialty in epidemiology, from the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health, and a BA in biology from Barnard College at Columbia University. She has authored numerous articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

She served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the Texas Association of Local Health Officials (TALHO), the Harris County Healthcare Alliance (HCHA), and served as Chair of the Texas Public Health Coalition. She recently served on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response and currently serves on the CDC Advisory Committee to the Director.  In 2011 she was appointed by President Obama as a member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health.