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Mary T.
Bassett, MD, MPH


FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard School of Public Health

Boston, MA


Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH, was appointed to Acting Commissioner of Health on December 1, 2021 and confirmed by the New York State Senate on January 20, 2022. 

Dr. Bassett previously served as director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights and FXB professor of the practice of health and human rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

From 2014 to August 2018, Bassett served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she worked to address the structural racism at the root of the city’s health gaps between whites and communities of color. From 2009 to 2014, Bassett served as program director for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s African Health Initiative and Child Well-Being Prevention Program.

In 2002, Dr. Bassett was appointed deputy commissioner of health promotion and disease prevention at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Her signature program was the launch of District Public Health Offices in several neighborhoods harmed by racial, ethnic and economic health inequities.  

Early in her career, Bassett served on the medical faculty at the University of Zimbabwe for 17 years and developed a range of AIDS prevention interventions. She went on to serve as associate director of health equity at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Southern Africa Office, overseeing its Africa AIDS portfolio.

Bassett’s awards and honors include the Frank A. Calderone Prize in Public Health, a Kenneth A. Forde Lifetime Achievement Award from Columbia University, a Victoria J. Mastrobuono Award for Women’s Health and the National Organization for Women’s Champion of Public Health Award.  She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Bassett received a bachelor’s degree in history and science from Harvard University, a doctor of medicine degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (serving her residency at Harlem Hospital Center) and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington.

Bassett has served on the Truth Initiative board of directors since 2017.

Truth Initiative