February 8, 2021

Donna Shalala Returns to Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense

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Steve Aaron
SRA Communications
(717) 554-8614

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services and U.S. Representative was a Founding Member of the Commission in 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 8, 2021) – Dr. Donna E. Shalala, a founding member of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, returned to the Commission after having represented Florida’s 27th Congressional District for the previous two years. She served as Secretary of Health and Human Services for eight years during the Clinton Administration. In 2008, President Bush presented Sec. Shalala with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian award.

“We are delighted to welcome Donna back to the Commission she helped to create,” said Commission Co-Chair, former Senator Joe Lieberman. “She played a critical role in the development of our seminal National Blueprint for Biodefense report.”

“Donna’s range of experiences are incredibly relevant as we look to address new biological challenges,” said Commission Co-Chair, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. “Her previous contributions to the Commission were invaluable. We all will benefit by having her back in the fold.”

Sec. Shalala led the development of Holding the Line on Biodefense: State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Reinforcements Needed, the report released by the Commission in October 2018, two years before the COVID-19 pandemic began. She also appeared before the Commission in May 2020 as a U.S. Representative to discuss the role of Congress in responding to the pandemic and preparing the Nation for the next biological event.

“We knew from our early examination of biological threats more than five years ago that our Nation was simply not prepared to effectively respond to a pandemic,” said Sec. Shalala. “We knew it in 2014. I wish the Executive and Legislative Branches had acted on more of our recommendations before COVID-19 started. The Commission’s recently released Apollo Program for Biodefense can help us plan for a safer tomorrow.”

Before joining the Commission in 2014, Sec. Shalala served as President of the University of Miami for 14 years. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran from 1962-1964. In 2010, Sec. Shalala received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, recognizing her dedication to improving the health and life expectancy of disadvantaged populations in South Africa and throughout the world.

About the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense

The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense was established in 2014 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state of U.S. biodefense efforts, and to issue recommendations to foster change. The Panel’s 2015 report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, identified capability gaps and recommended changes to U.S. policy and law to strengthen national biodefense while optimizing resource investments. Subsequent Commission publications have addressed critical needs for agrodefense, biodefense budgeting, the need for diagnostic tests, science and technology needs for biodefense, and State, Local, Tribal and Territorial capabilities. In September 2018, the White House released the National Biodefense Strategy, a top recommendation from the Blueprint. The Commission continues to address biodefense challenges and to urge reform. Former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge co-chair the Commission, and are joined by former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Representative Jim Greenwood, former Homeland Security Advisor Ken Wainstein, and former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco. Hudson Institute is the Commission’s fiscal sponsor.