33. Nadine Burke Harris
During a pandemic, it’s a good thing to have a person crisscrossing the state extolling the virtues of wellness, preventive care and the value of vaccinations, and Nadine Burke Harris fits the bill. Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Harris as California’s first surgeon general, which means she urges people to identify health issues before they become chronic and expensive to treat. She is an expert on childhood maladies, and she is credited with landmark work in the use of ACEs, or Adverse Childhood Experiences, in screening and treating childhood trauma. Harris managed to carve out healthy funding for the ACE screening during her first year, and the governor proposed extending the program. Harris says “social determinants of health are to the 21st century what infectious diseases were to the 20th century,” and believes that universal screening could help cut childhood trauma by 50% in just one generation.
Updated Aug. 25, 2021.