Mary A. Pittman DrPH ’87, MCP, MPH ’80 is president and chief executive officer of the Public Health Institute (PHI). A nationally recognized leader in improving community health, Pittman’s primary focus has been guiding the development of a strategic plan that builds on existing PHI program strengths to achieve greater impact on public policy and the practice of public health. She emphasizes multi-disciplinary leadership in population health to improve the health of communities everywhere. Before joining PHI, Pittman served as the president and CEO of HRET and the California Association of Public Hospitals; and a director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.


On public health and the challenges we face

Public Health serves as the nexus for all the inputs to health and well-being. It is a field that includes multiple disciplines and methodologies to solve complex social and health problems facing populations. Public health’s social justice and equity framework is critical for California and the world as we see continued divisive policies that disadvantage populations in greatest need.

Secrets for success

Create a strong network of colleagues who you admire and trust. It is critical to getting your work done, getting inspiration and support, and creating a network of friends.

“Berkeley moment”

I had the privilege of working with David Starkweather on the computer simulation for hospitals and health systems in a community context. I learned about the inputs to health and healthcare, had an opportunity to teach, supported national competitions with schools around the country, and learned to consult in a real-world setting. This started as a research experience and morphed into a fantastic multi-year learning opportunity and friendship with a wonderful faculty member of the School of Public Health.

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