Harvard Chan School experts tapped for Biden administration posts

Harvard Chan School.

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

2 min read

Two faculty members from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health — Sara Bleich and Benjamin Sommers — and one former faculty member, Gina McCarthy, have been chosen for roles in the new Biden-Harris administration.

The appointments for Bleich and Sommers were announced Jan. 20, shortly after the inauguration of President Joe Biden. McCarthy’s appointment was announced in mid-December.

Bleich, professor of public health policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management, will serve in the new position of senior advisor for COVID-19 in the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In that role, she’ll lead efforts related to the pandemic, economic recovery, and federal nutrition assistance programs.

Sommers, Huntley Quelch Professor of Health Care Economics, will serve as deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation (ASPE) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In that role, he will lead the Office of Health Policy, which addresses issues related to Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, health care quality, and public health, including COVID-19. His role will be to ensure that policies are based on solid evidence and science.

McCarthy, who previously served as director and chair of the board of advisors for Harvard Chan School’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE), will serve as the first-ever national climate advisor.

In her new role, McCarthy — who has been a leading voice on climate and environmental issues for more than 30 years — will head the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, where she will drive an “all of government” approach to combating climate change.