Governor Names Sandra Shewry Acting Director California Department of Public Health

Note: Sandra Shewry’s tenure as acting director ended on December 31, 2020, and she has returned to her position at CHCF. Tomás Aragón, MD, is the California Department of Public Health director and state health officer.

Sandra Shewry, MPH, MSW, vice president of External Engagement for the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), has been named acting director of the California Department of Public Health.

Shewry joined the foundation in 2011, after spending nearly two decades in leadership roles in state government, including as director of the state’s Department of Health Services from 2004 to 2007. At that time, the position included overseeing both the Medi-Cal program and public health responsibilities. (The department was divided during her tenure into the Department of Health Care Services and the Department of Public Health.)

“We are facing one of the greatest challenges of our lifetimes — a pandemic with immense consequences to the health of the people of California,” Shewry said. “The role California’s state and local health departments play in responding to the pandemic and in contributing to a more just society has never been greater. I look forward to working in partnership with state and local health officers as California addresses these challenges.”

By state statute, the director of the California Department of Public Health also serves as state health officer and must be a physician. Shewry will serve as acting director of the department, and Newsom named Erica Pan, MD, MPH, as acting state health officer. Pan has been the state epidemiologist and will continue to serve in that role.

“California’s public health leadership has never been more important than it is today,” said Sandra R. Hernández, MD, president and CEO of CHCF. “Sandra Shewry is an excellent choice for this interim role.”

“She has deep experience working both in and out of state government to safeguard and improve the health of Californians. She has the added benefit of having served in this particular office before.”

CHCF Director of Communications Eric Antebi  will be acting vice president for External Engagement during Shewry’s absence.

Contact Information:
Lisa Aliferis
Senior Communications Officer

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.