3. Mark Ghaly
As we approach three years in the pandemic, California’s top health officer is juggling the state’s COVID-19 responses with the restive public’s demands that forced masking go the way of the dodo. Not easy. Mark Ghaly is the secretary of Health and Human Services, a Cabinet-level post at the tip of the state’s health bureaucracy and the principal health adviser to Gov. Newsom. Since the pandemic began, California has seen more than 10.3 million infections and 92,000 deaths. And it’s not like the pandemic is fading away: New reports show the spread of an aggressive and highly infectious subvariant, which means Ghaly has his hands full.
He’s also riding point on the governor’s mental health care proposals, including the California CARE Courts, an effort backed by many mental health care professionals and others to help get mentally ill people, especially the homeless, into treatment. Ghaly has degrees in biology and biomedical ethics from Brown University, a medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and a Master’s Degree from Harvard’s School of Public Health. He is married to Christina Ghaly, who directs L.A. County’s Department of Health Services.
Updated Aug. 9, 2022