The former Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration, Donna Shalala, has been appointed to the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense.
Shalala had been a founding member of the commission, established in 2014. She left two years ago to serve in the Congress from Florida but lost her seat in 2020.
“We are delighted to welcome Donna back to the Commission she helped to create,” Commission Co-Chair former Sen. Joe Lieberman said. “She played a critical role in the development of our seminal National Blueprint for Biodefense report.”
As a commission member, Shalala led the development of Holding the Line on Biodefense: State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Reinforcements Needed, a report released in October 2018, a year and a half before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“We knew from our early examination of biological threats more than five years ago that our Nation was simply not prepared to effectively respond to a pandemic,” Shalala said. “We knew it in 2014. I wish the Executive and Legislative Branches had acted on more of our recommendations before COVID-19 started. The Commission’s recently released Apollo Program for Biodefense can help us plan for a safer tomorrow.”
In 2008, President Bush presented Shalala with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian award. Shalala also served as president of the University of Miami for 14 years.
“Donna’s range of experiences are incredibly relevant as we look to address new biological challenges,” Commission Co-Chair, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said. “Her previous contributions to the Commission were invaluable. We all will benefit by having her back in the fold.”
The commission was established in 2014 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state of U.S. biodefense efforts and issue recommendations to foster change.