New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has named Dr. Herminia Palacio deputy mayor for the city's health and human services.
Palacio, 54, a New York City native, is leaving her current post as a director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to join the de Blasio administration on Jan. 25.
Palacio will oversee major departments in the city, including the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYC Health and Hospitals, Human Resources Administration and the Department of Homeless Services. Palacio will also work with First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and Commissioner Steve Banks in a continuing review of the city's homeless programs.
Last month, after Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor resigned, the city unveiled Home-Stat, an initiative that will combine existing homeless response and prevention programs with ideas to identify the homeless and transition them to permanent housing, according to a press release.
At the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Palacio was responsible for creating new health leadership programs. Previously, she served as executive director of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services in Texas. Harris County includes Houston, which accepted over 27,000 evacuees from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She also held the post of senior policy adviser for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and battled issues related to the HIV/AIDS crisis.
She received her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Palacio also earned a master's in public health from the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health, and a bachelor of arts in biology from Columbia University's Barnard College.
"New York City has my heart. It is my home. The opportunity to serve the people of New York City as a deputy mayor is a tremendous honor, particularly with this administration, which has built on a foundation of equity and social justice that speaks to the values that have motivated my work my entire life," Palacio said in a press release.
Palacio will be busy with several projects de Blasio has in the works. Last month, he unveiled a $130 million, four-year plan to tackle the issue of mentally ill people stuck in the cycle of arrests and incarceration. It would direct the mentally ill toward treatment instead of jail.