Gov. Tina Kotek has named Dr. Sejal Hathi to be the new director of the Oregon Health Authority, ending an eight-month vacancy at the top of the largest agency in the state.
Hathi won’t start her new job until Jan. 16. She served as an advisor in the Biden White House, a deputy health commissioner for the state of New Jersey and has been an outspoken champion of health equity and public health.
“The Oregon Health Authority has a critical role in ensuring equitable access to health care in Oregon and for stewarding our behavioral and public health systems in every part of the state,” Kotek said in a statement released by her office. “This work must be carried out with transparency, accountability, urgency, and an infallible commitment to customer service. Dr. Hathi brings a rare combination of extraordinary qualifications to this role – from frontline experience as a physician, to shaping policy in the White House, to founding two non-profits focused on women and girls’ leadership. I am grateful she is bringing her experience and talent to serve Oregonians.”
Hathi, in her statement, said “I’m both excited and humbled to be a part of the ground-breaking advances in health care access that are happening in Oregon. At the national level, all eyes are on Oregon and the steps this state is taking to expand health coverage and tackle root cause issues, such as the social determinants of health. I look forward to continuing this proud tradition and working with the team to make every community in the state a healthier place to live.”
Hathi founded an international girls’ leadership nonprofit at the age of 15, then founded another nonprofit dedicated to crowdfunding ventures and social startups by young women, and then attended Yale University. She obtained her medical degree and a master’s in business administration from Yale University. She then obtained her medical degree and a master’s in business administration from Stanford University. She became a resident physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, and joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School.
In 2021, she joined the White House as a senior policy advisor for public health, where according to the governor’s office, she led various Biden administration priorities for the Domestic Policy Council for a period of two years.
She has served on the board of advisors to Inseparable, a mental health advocacy organization.
Oregon Health Authority, with more than 5,000 employees, has lacked a permanent director since early March. That’s when Kotek’s initial pick for the job, James Schroeder, offered his resignation after just seven weeks. Since then, David Baden has been serving as interim director.