Skip to Main Content

YSPH alumna Kate Walsh named Massachusetts’ Health and Human Services Secretary

January 25, 2023
by Fran Fried

Boston Medical Center President and CEO and Yale trustee Kate Walsh, MPH ’79, BA ’77, has been tapped by Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey to be the commonwealth’s new Health and Human Services Secretary.

Walsh, a Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) alumna who holds an MPH degree in hospital administration, will oversee the state government’s largest department, which includes 12 state agencies, two soldiers’ homes, and the MassHealth program – Massachusetts’ combined Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The department has a combined budget of more than $27 billion and 22,000 public employees. According to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services website, the services and programs under HHS oversight represent 53% of the state’s budget and serve one in every four residents.

Walsh has led BMC, an academic health system dedicated to underserved populations, since 2010, as well as the BMC HealthNet Plan (now the WellSense Health Plan), which provides health insurance and access to care to nearly 300,000 low-income people. As president and CEO, she advocated for greater resources for behavioral health care and led a collaborative effort to create affordable housing in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan, and to train and connect Black and Latina/o residents with full-time jobs in health care, technology, and biotech industries. Under her watch, BMC also established the first transgender medical program in New England.

BMC is also the principal teaching affiliate of the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, which operates 61 residency training programs with 729 resident and fellowship positions. Walsh is chair of the Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems for the Association of American Medical Colleges and previously served as chair of the Massachusetts Hospital Association.

Walsh has been an executive at Boston-area hospitals for more than three decades. After graduating from YSPH, she served in a variety of positions at several New York City hospitals (Montefiore, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Saint Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation) before returning to her home city to join Massachusetts General Hospital in 1988, eventually becoming senior vice president. She was the COO at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research from 2002-2004 and executive vice president and COO of Brigham and Women’s Hospital from 2004-2010 before joining BMC.

Walsh served on Yale’s University Council and was a non-trustee member of the Yale Corporation Committee on the School of Medicine prior to being elected as an alumni fellow in 2017. In addition to her role as a Yale trustee, she has also served on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, American Hospital Association, Boston Public Health Commission, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, America's Essential Hospitals, and the Pine Street Inn, a Boston-based organization that supports and advocates for unhoused people.

Submitted by Fran Fried on January 26, 2023