Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Donna Shalala (1993–2001): Secretary of Health and Human Services

Donna Shalala accepted the position of secretary of health and human services in 1993 and served in that position under President Clinton until the end of his second term in 2001. Shalala also served in the Carter administration as assistant secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (1977-1980).

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1941, Shalala earned her undergraduate degree in history from Western College for Women and her doctorate from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

From 1962 to 1964, Shalala served as a volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps in Iran. She was an associate professor and director of the Program in Politics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, from 1972 to 1979. For a short time, from 1975 to 1977, she was director and treasurer of the Municipal Assistance Corporation for the City of New York, the organization credited with saving the city from bankruptcy in the late 1970s.

Outside of political life, Shalala has held several academic posts: president of Hunter College of the City University of New York (1980-1987) and chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1987-1993). She also served as president of the University of Miami.