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Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, is president and chief executive officer of the Public Health Institute (PHI). A nationally recognized leader in improving community health, addressing health inequities among vulnerable people and promoting quality of care, Pittman assumed the reins at PHI in 2008, becoming the organization’s second president and CEO since its founding in 1964. Her 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 practice in public health. “In a changing environment, strategic planning is an ongoing process, not an end product,” she said.

Pittman’s overarching goal is for PHI to become known for leadership in creating healthier communities. To this end, PHI continues to work closely with the state on many programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. What’s more, she advocates that all PHI projects take the social determinants of health into account to better address health disparities and inequities.

Pittman is recognized as an influential voice in health practice and policy. Under Pittman’s leadership, PHI has emphasized support for the Affordable Care Act and the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the integration of new technologies and the expansion of global health programming. Other top priorities are: increasing advocacy for public policy and health reform, and addressing health workforce shortages and the impacts of climate change on public health. Under Pittman, PHI has created, the online platform for conferencing and social networking, and has been recognized as a preferred place to work. She strives for PHI’s independent investigators to work together to achieve a synergy in which the sum of their contributions is greater than the whole.

Pittman has deep, varied and multi-sectoral experience in local public health, research, education and hospitals. Before joining PHI, Pittman headed the Health Research and Educational Trust, a Chicago-based affiliate of the American Hospital Association, from 1993 to 2007. Previously, she was president and CEO of the California Association of Public Hospitals and a director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Pittman has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and two books. In July of 2020, her career in public health was featured in Forbes Magazine, where Pittman discusses what it takes to lead through the most complex and confounding public health crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic.  She has been recognized as one of the most influential Bay Area women leaders by the San Francisco Business Times, and selected by the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health as one of 16  public health women leaders for her work in addressing health inequities.

Pittman has served on the PHI board of directors since 1996. She also serves on numerous boards and committees, including the World Health Organization’s Health Worker Migration Global Policy Advisory Council and the National Patient Safety Foundation’s board of governors.


Recent Highlights

Modern healthcare logo
Mary Pittman is Recognized as One of the 100 Most Influential People by Modern Healthcare

Mary A. Pittman, DrPH has been recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare for 2021. Mary was chosen for her strategic thinking and leadership of PHI through the COVID-19 pandemic and her long work as an influential voice in public health practice and policy. Read more.

Kaiser's "Public Health and the Delivery System: Vital Connections” features Dr. Mary Pittman

In this Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Policy virtual forum, Dr. Mary Pittman and speakers discuss how to build a stronger system in the future that improves the public’s health in an equitable way, both in emergencies and in the longer term. Watch here.



Sixteen People who changed public health
UC Berkeley’ School of Public Health’s Sixteen Women Who Changed Public Health

Marking 150 Years of Women at the University of California Berkeley, Pittman was featured as one of 16 women for her work in addressing health inequities. Read more.

Pharma VOICE
PharmaVOICE's Top 100 of the Most Inspiring People in Health of 2020

Named as one of the “Top 100 of the Most Inspiring People in Health” by PharmaVOICE magazine, Pittman is recognized as an influential voice in health practice and policy. Learn more.

Forbes logo
A Public Health Expert Says The Pandemic Is The Tip Of The Iceberg When It Comes To Health, Equity, And Social Justice

In Forbes magazine, Mary Pittman talks about her career in public health and what it takes to lead through the current COVID-19 pandemic. Read the article.

Mary Pittman featured on “A Shot in the Arm Podcast”

Which countries’ public health responses have worked and which ones have floundered? In this podcast, Mary Pittman analyzes different epidemic public health strategies and what the lessons the USA urgently needs to learn. Watch here.

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A Comprehensive, Community-Driven COVID Response

PHI’s Together Toward Health (TTH) is a statewide initiative that supports over 500 community-based organizations (CBOs) that work on reducing the spread of COVID-19 in California's most impacted communities. Since launching in 2020, TTH has disbursed over $33 million to CBOs like churches, health centers, community centers, local coalitions and more—who then serve as trusted experts for COVID-19 education, testing and vaccination access in their communities.

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