Dr. Rochelle Walensky
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Walensky has been guiding the national policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic since she became director in 2021. She has emphasized the importance of stepped-up testing, vaccination, masking and surveillance, even drawing criticism for the agency’s guidelines. As the pandemic marked a turning point in May, with hospitalizations at their lowest point and deaths falling—even as positivity rates surged—she urged the public to stay vigilant and follow the science. She also has called attention to issues of social and racial injustice and inequity as well as suicide, substance use disorder and chronic illnesses. Earlier in her career, Walensky’s pioneering research on HIV/AIDS helped advance the national and global response to the disease. She was chief of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital from 2017 to 2020.