California HealthCare Foundation Names Dr. Sandra R. Hernández President and CEO

Health care, philanthropy, and public health leader to join CHCF in 2014


Sandra R. Hernández, MD, a leader in philanthropy, expert in public health and policy, former director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and a practicing physician, has been named president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF).

Hernández will succeed founding President and CEO Mark D. Smith, MD, MBA, who announced earlier this year that he was stepping down from the foundation he has led since 1996. Hernández will join CHCF on January 2, 2014.

“Our state faces daunting challenges and opportunities as we move into a new era of health care reform and Dr. Hernández is uniquely qualified to ensure that philanthropy plays an important role at this historic time,” said Micheline Chau, chairperson of the CHCF board of directors. “Dr. Hernández’s deep understanding of our challenged health care system is informed by her real world experience as a leading public health official and a doctor on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic.”

“The effectiveness of the California HealthCare Foundation’s work in service to its mission is unshakable. I’m enthusiastic to lead CHCF during this historic time to fulfill the promise of better health care for all Californians,” said Dr. Hernández.

During her tenure, Dr. Hernández has led The San Francisco Foundation through an extraordinary period of growth to become one of the nation’s largest community foundations in both grantmaking and assets.

Prior to becoming the CEO of The San Francisco Foundation in 1997, Dr. Hernández served in a number of public health roles in San Francisco, including director of public health (1994-97), deputy director (1992-94), acting medical director (1991-92), and director of the Office on AIDS (1988-90).

Hernández was instrumental in the 2006 creation of Healthy San Francisco, an innovative approach to providing universal health care to uninsured residents of the city. Hernández served as the co-chair of the group that created the health access program that currently serves 40,000 people.

She continues to be an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine and plans to maintain her clinical practice at San Francisco General Hospital in the AIDS clinic, where she has practiced since 1987. Hernández is a graduate of Yale University and Tufts School of Medicine.

“Passing the baton to Sandra Hernández gives me great pleasure,” said Dr. Smith. “I have admired her work both from afar and up close at San Francisco General Hospital, where we have both practiced medicine together for many years. I know she will capably lead the foundation into the future.”

“The direction of CHCF is sound,” Chau said. “With the Affordable Care Act, health care will undergo significant change over the coming years. This will require new thinking, innovative approaches, and nimble grantmaking. We believe Dr. Hernández is the right leader to forge this new path forward with us,” said Chau.

Dr. Hernández currently serves on the boards of Blue Shield of California and the Blue Shield of California Foundation. She is also a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Economic Advisory Council, the Public Policy Institute of California Statewide Leadership Council, the UCSF Chancellor’s Advisory Board, and the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute Advisory Board.


Contact Information:
Eric Antebi
Director of Communications


About the California Health Care Foundation

The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.