Department of Health, Commissioner’s Cabinet

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Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner

Mary T. Bassett, M.D., M.P.H., was appointed Acting Commissioner of Health on December 1, 2021 and confirmed by the New York State Senate on January 20, 2022. She previously served as Director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights in the department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Prior to that, she served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Director for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's African Health Initiative and Child Well-Being Prevention Program; and as Deputy Commissioner of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Early in her career, Dr. Bassett served on the medical faculty at the University of Zimbabwe and went on to serve as Associate Director of Health Equity at the Rockefeller Foundation's Southern Africa Office. After returning to the United States, she served on the faculty of Columbia University, including as Associate Professor of Clinical Epidemiology in the Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Bassett received a B.A. in History and Science from Harvard University, an M.D. from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and an M.P.H. from the University of Washington.

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Laura Mascuch, Chief of Staff

Laura Mascuch joined the Health Department as Chief of Staff to the Commissioner in May of 2022. In this capacity, she assists the Commissioner and senior leadership team with agency management, strategic initiatives and supporting public health responses to emerging issues.

Ms. Mascuch brings more than 30 years of policy and management experience to the agency, including public sector and nonprofit organization work. She previously served as the Executive Director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York, the nation’s premier supportive housing membership organization, with more than 200 nonprofits throughout New York State. Laura also has 10 years of senior level experience in New York City government, including serving as Chief of Staff at NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and as an Assistant Commissioner at NYC Department of Homeless Services.

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Kristin Proud, Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner

Kristin Proud is the Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner in the New York State Department of Health. She returned to public service at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to work with the Governor’s Office and the Department of Health on the State’s COVID-19 response activities, including establishing and leading the Hospital Capacity Coordination Center and planning and operationalizing the COVID-19 vaccination program. Kristin brings 25 years of policy, fiscal, and management experience to this role.

She previously served as the Commissioner of the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), the State agency responsible for administering a range of safety net programs for low-income New Yorkers, and in the Governor’s Office working with three Governors in roles including Deputy Secretary for Human Services, Technology & Operations, Deputy Director of State Operations, and Director of Health and Human Services.

Kristin has extensive legislative experience, having spent 14 years working in public policy and fiscal positions in the NYS Assembly, including serving as the Deputy Secretary of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and principal advisor to the Speaker and the Assembly Majority on issues related to health and human services. She also has not-for-profit sector experience working having worked with the largest provider of services to individuals with disabilities in the Capital Region.

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Dr. Ursula Bauer, PhD, MPH, Deputy Commissioner for Public Health

Ursula E. Bauer, PhD, MPH, is the deputy commissioner for public health at the New York State Department of Health. She directs the Office of Public Health and leads the Office’s portfolio addressing chronic diseases, infectious diseases, injuries, environmental health, maternal, child and family health, and other areas of public health concern.

Prior to joining NYSDOH in August 2021, she served as senior advisor to the U.S. Surgeon General, where she advanced partnership strategies to increase investment in communities and led the development of Community Health and Economic Prosperity: Engaging Businesses as Stewards and Stakeholders—A Report of the Surgeon General.

Prior to joining the Surgeon General’s Office in 2018, she directed the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a position she held for eight-and-a-half years.

Dr. Bauer held leadership positions in state health departments in Louisiana, Florida and New York, and holds a PhD in Epidemiology from Yale University, an MPH in Family Health from Columbia University, and a Master’s degree in Political Science from Rutgers University.

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Dr. Eugene Heslin, First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer

Strategic, entrepreneurial, results-driven physician and healthcare leader with extensive experience and success leading health system transformation and working across public and private payers on initiatives that span local, state and federal government to improve access to high quality healthcare services. Many years of clinical experience and practice management, combined with an expertise in healthcare information technology and data analytics, have allowed me to achieve top performance metrics and outcomes, as well as optimization of value based payments through development of consumer centric population health programs. In addition to my work on these and other major healthcare policy issues, I have brought essential and collaborative leadership throughout the COVID pandemic, identifying key issues, analyzing multiple complex data and developing and executing real time solutions for a broad range of challenges that presented throughout the crisis. As an actively practicing physician in the NYS DOH, my clinical care activity allows me to apply real time, current clinical care delivery expertise to development and implementation of healthcare policy initiatives and acute situational response.

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Sam Miller, Associate Commissioner for External Affairs

Sam joined the Department of Health in January 2022 as Associate Commissioner for External Affairs, overseeing the agency’s communications and government relations work, building on his experience in public health and government. Immediately prior to joining the Department, Sam served as Chief External Relations Officer at ICL, a leading provider of behavioral health and housing services in New York City.

From 2010-2019, Sam directed government relations and then communications at the New York City Department of Health, overseeing a 90-person office responsible for press, marketing, legislative and community affairs. From 2002-2010, Sam served as press secretary and then Assistant Commissioner at the New York City Department of Finance, overseeing communications and legislative affairs.

Sam got his start in government working as a policy analyst for Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger while earning an MPA in Policy from NYU’s Wagner School for Public Service. He earned a BA in English Literature at the University of Chicago, and lives in Brooklyn.

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Kathy Marks, General Counsel

Kathy Marks joined the Department as General Counsel in November 2020. In this role, she oversees more than 100 attorneys and staff in nine different Bureaus. Among other things, these Bureaus provide legal advice to the Department in all program areas; draft, review, and comment on legislation and regulations; represent the Department in defensive and affirmative litigation; prosecute physicians and physicians assistants charged with professional misconduct; enforce the Public Health Law and sections of the Social Services Law in administrative hearings; and respond to requests for records submitted pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law.

Prior to joining the Department, Kathy was a commercial litigator specializing in health care, the False Claims Act, and government investigations. From 2007 to 2010, Kathy served as Counsel to the NYS Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. From 1991 to 2007, Kathy served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, including serving as Chief of the Immigration Unit and Deputy Chief of Appeals. Kathy is a graduate of Georgetown University and the Georgetown University Law Center.

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Amir Bassiri, Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Health Insurance Programs and Acting Medicaid Director

Mr. Bassiri is the Medicaid Director for the New York State Department of Health (DOH). He joined the Department of Health in 2019 as Chief of Staff to the Medicaid Director and recently served as the Deputy Medicaid Director, overseeing the operation and performance of nine Medicaid Divisions. Collectively, these nine Divisions are comprised of more than 750 State staff, over 500 contracted staff and management of over 300 contracts, including some of the State's largest technology, actuarial and financial audit contracts, along with health plans. Prior to his work with the Department, he worked as a Senior Policy Advisor for Health in the Governor's Office under the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services. He earned his B.A. in both Economics and Psychology from the University of California, Davis, before earning a Master’s in Social Work (M.S.W) from Columbia University.

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Adam Herbst, Deputy Commissioner Aging & Long Term Care

Adam S. Herbst, Esq., is the New York State Department of Health’s Deputy Commissioner, leading the Office of Aging and Long Term Care. Under his leadership, the Office focuses on the transformation of New York’s aging, long term care and disability systems so that they remain financially and operationally sustainable. As Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Herbst devotes his work to ensuring all aging New Yorkers have equitable access to quality health services and appropriate living settings that reduce isolation. He is responsible for implementing recommendations within the State’s budget to achieve meaningful savings in the Medicaid program, including alignment with Medicare to capture acute care savings generated by long term care services. He has introduced policy for long term care providers and plans to receive funding consistent with their service obligations to protect access to quality long term care for future generations and for safeguarding the development of a comprehensive, person-centered care plan for every individual eligible for skilled nursing care, whether in their home, community, or an institutional setting.

Prior to serving as Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Herbst was a Special Advisor at the New York State Department of Health, where he offered counsel on aging and long term care policy . Mr. Herbst is a seasoned health care professional with extensive knowledge of public health and strategy. He has worked on issues related to housing, education and economic development, and has trial experience in both federal and state courts. He is a frequent speaker on health care access and technology and is an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, New York Medical College and New York Law School. He teaches on health policy and bioethics.

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Dr. John Morley, Deputy Commissioner of Primary Care and Health Systems Management

John Morley is a native New Yorker, born in the Bronx and grew up in Westchester County. After College and Medical School, he trained in Anesthesia at St. Barnabas Hospital in New Jersey and internal Medicine in Albany Medical Center. His Fellowships were in Infectious Disease, Pulmonary and Critical Care.

Immediately after completing training, he was appointed Medical Director of the PreAnesthesia Screening Clinic at the Albany Medical Center and Assistant Prof. of Anesthesia, Internal Medicine and Critical Care. Four years later, in 1999, he was appointed Associate Medical Director for the Hospital and in 2001 appointed the hospital Medical Director and Assoc. Prof. of Anesthesia, Internal Medicine and Surgery.

His public Service began in 2005 when he was appointed Medical Director for the Office of Health Systems Management in the NYSDOH. In 2011 his public service continued in the NYC Public Hospital system.

Dr. Morley comes to DOH from his position of over 3 years as Deputy Commissioner and CMO of the NYS Dept. of Corrections and Community Supervision. He is currently Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Primary Care and Health Systems Management.

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Johanne Morne, Deputy Commissioner Health Equity and Human Rights

Johanne E. Morne (she, her, hers) is the Deputy Commissioner, Office of Health Equity and Human Rights (OHEHR) for the New York State Department of Health (Department). Ms. Morne was appointed in August 2022 as a member of the Department’s Cabinet, to lead the Department’s health equity and human rights planning, policy development, and programming. OHEHR is made up of the AIDS Institute, and the Offices of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention, Gun Violence Prevention and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Prior to her recent appointment, Ms. Morne worked for the AIDS Institute for 15 years, serving as the Director for six of those years. The AI portfolio includes HIV and other sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention and care, viral hepatitis prevention and treatment, drug user health and wellness, and LGBTQ+ health and human services. Ms. Morne’s leadership has advanced the State’s Ending the AIDS Epidemic and Hepatitis C Elimination initiatives. Her leadership led to NYSDOH implementing essential policy changes to promote expanded access to HIV, STI and Hepatitis C prevention, treatment, and care, as well as furthering statewide harm reduction programming and LGBTQ+ service delivery. Ms. Morne’s early career included leadership positions in public health, domestic violence, substance use, organizational development, and organizational change.

Ms. Morne served as a board member of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), serving as the Board Chair from 2019 to 2020 and on the Executive Committee from 2018 - 2022. In 2019, Ms. Morne was appointed to the CDC/HRSA Advisory Committee (CHAC) on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STD Prevention and Treatment. The CHAC advises the HHS Secretary, the CDC Director, and the HRSA Administrator on objectives, strategies, policies, and priorities for HIV, viral hepatitis, and STD prevention and treatment efforts.

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Diane Christensen, Deputy Commissioner Administration

Diane Christensen became Deputy Commissioner for Administration in November 2021, after serving as Deputy Director of Administration since 2018. In this role Diane oversees policy direction and management of Finance (Accounting, Budgeting, Contracting, Grants Management), Human Resources (Personnel, Employee Relations, Training), Operations Management, including Facilities, and Audit Services.

Prior to roles in Administration, Diane worked as the Internal Audit Director at the Department of Health, Department of State, and the now defunct State Energy Office, after beginning working for NYS at the Office of the State Comptroller. Prior to, and interspersed with NYS employment, Diane has worked in financial management, sales and marketing, and as a small business owner. Diane is a Siena College graduate, and Certified Internal Auditor. She and her husband live in Glenmont, where they raised their two now adult children.

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Danielle Holahan, Executive Director, NY State of Health

Danielle Holahan was appointed Executive Director of the NY State of Health, New York’s Health Plan Marketplace, in September 2021 after serving as Deputy Director since April 2011. One of the nation’s most successful marketplaces, NY State of Health provides consumers a one-stop shopping experience to enroll in high-quality comprehensive coverage, including Medicaid, Child Health Plus, Essential Plan (New York’s Basic Health Program) and subsidized and unsubsidized Qualified Health Plans. Since the Marketplace opened in 2013, NY State of Health has seen a dramatic increase in enrollment, reaching 6.6 million enrollees in September 2022, and a commensurate reduction in the state’s uninsured from 10 percent to 5 percent in 2019.

From 1999 to 2011, Danielle worked at the United Hospital Fund of New York, where she was Co-Director of the Health Insurance Project. Her work focused on analysis of health insurance coverage issues, options for coverage expansion, and public program enrollment and retention. From 1994 to 1997, she worked at AARP's Public Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Danielle holds a Bachelor of Arts from Franklin & Marshall College and a Master of Public Health from Columbia University's Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health.

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Megan Baldwin, Senior Advisor

Megan Baldwin is a Senior Advisor in the Commissioner’s Office at the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). In this role, she is responsible for managing strategic initiatives and projects within the Department, including coordinating COVID-19, monkeypox, and safe abortion access response and activities.

Prior to joining NYSDOH, Megan served as a Special Advisor to the Chancellor at SUNY System Administration, orchestrating campus and student health and wellness efforts and leading the Office of Academic Health and Hospital Affairs.

Prior to SUNY, Megan worked for the New York State Executive Chamber, where she served as the Assistant Secretary for Health. In this capacity, Megan provided management and oversight for the State’s Department of Health and worked on a diverse set of public health issues including programming and policy to combat opioid use, curb the use of youth vaping, establish drinking water quality standards, enhance maternal and women’s health resources, and emergency response efforts, including the deployment of healthcare volunteers to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and COVID-19 response. Megan facilitated the second Medicaid Redesign Team, ensuring continued access to healthcare services while preserving the State’s safety net by identifying program efficiencies.

Preceding her work in the Executive Chamber, she served as the Principal Analyst at the New York Senate Finance Committee for nearly 10 years. Ms. Baldwin has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from SUNY Brockport.

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Paul Francis, Senior Advisor

Paul Francis has been a Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health since July 2020 in which he focuses on a range of policy issues. From July 2015 through July 2020, he was the Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services under Governor Andrew Cuomo. He previously served as the Director of the Budget under Governor Eliot Spitzer in 2007, Director of State Operations under Governor David Paterson’s in 2008, and as the Director of Agency Redesign under Governor Cuomo from 2011-2013.

Paul began his career as a lawyer from 1980-1986. He then spent seven years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch & Co., leaving in 1993 to become the Chief Financial Officer of Ann Taylor Stores Corporation. In 1997, Paul became the sixth employee and founding CFO of Priceline.com. From 2001 to 2004, Paul was the Managing Partner of the Cedar Street Group, a venture capital firm, before becoming the Policy Director of Eliot Spitzer’s gubernatorial campaign in 2005.

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Sandra Mullin, Senior Advisor

Sandra Mullin has 25 years of experience in public health, with a focus on strategic communication, policy advocacy, and social marketing. She has served in executive roles in government and non-governmental organizations. In addition to serving as a Senior Advisor to Dr. Mary Bassett, she is on the leadership team of Vital Strategies, a global public health agency that focuses on strengthening public health systems in low and middle income countries.

As a Senior Advisor to the Health Commissioner, Ms. Mullin is project-managing the rebuild initiative to optimize the SDOH’s effectiveness in improving the health of New Yorkers. She works closely with the commissioner, Chief of Staff and other senior staff to analyze and advise on strategic priorities. She also provides assistance on speeches, talking points, and internal communication.

Prior to her current roles, Ms. Mullin spent 12 years in New York City government as Associate Commissioner and Director of Communication for the New York City Department of Health, and as Communication Director for the New York City Council.

Ms. Mullin led the New York City Health Department’s communication efforts during the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks, and is a seasoned practitioner in crisis communication having handled the anthrax and SARS crises in 2001 and 2003, and the novel West Nile virus outbreak in 1999. She was integral to New York City’s preparations for the H1N1 influenza epidemic and advised health authorities on communication responses to other public health crises including Ebola in 2014 and COVID in 2020. She has authored or co-authored articles on crisis communication and on various public health mass media campaigns. She has been featured in PR Week and has been invited to give talks about her work at numerous conferences worldwide.

She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Hofstra University, NY; completed three years of doctoral work in political science at the City University of New York; and earned an MSW in Community Organizing from Hunter College School of Social Work. She also received a Certificate in Business Excellence from Columbia University School of Business for a program geared to leaders in non-profit management and government.

She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is originally from London, UK, and Jamaica.