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Georges Benjamin, MD
Executive Director, American Public Health Association
Georges C. Benjamin is known as one of the nation’s most influential physician leaders because he speaks passionately and eloquently about the health issues having the most impact on our nation today. From his firsthand experience as a physician, he knows what happens when preventive care is not available and when the healthy choice is not the easy choice. As executive director of APHA since 2002, he is leading the Association’s push to make America the healthiest nation.
He came to APHA from his position as secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Benjamin became secretary of health in Maryland in April 1999, following four years as its deputy secretary for public health services. As secretary, Benjamin oversaw the expansion and improvement of the state’s Medicaid program.
Benjamin, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, is a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He is board-certified in internal medicine and a master of the American College of Physicians, a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a fellow emeritus of the American College of Emergency Physicians, an honorary fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health.
An established administrator, author and orator, Benjamin started his medical career as a military physician in 1978 when he trained in internal medicine at the Brooke Army Medical Center. In 1981, he was assigned to the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, where he managed a 72,000-patient visit ambulatory care service as chief of the Acute Illness Clinic and was faculty and an attending physician within the Department of Emergency Medicine. A few years later, he was reassigned to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he served as chief of emergency medicine. After leaving the Army, he chaired the Department of Community Health and Ambulatory Care at the District of Columbia General Hospital. He was promoted to acting commissioner for public health for the District of Columbia and later directed one of the busiest ambulance services in the nation as interim director of the Emergency Ambulance Bureau of the District of Columbia Fire Department.
His academic career has consisted of a full range of endeavors from teaching and policy research to academic program development and management. Benjamin has combined his practice and academic experience as an emergency physician with public health to become one of the nation’s experts in public health emergency preparedness.
At APHA, Benjamin also serves as publisher of the nonprofit’s monthly publication, The Nation’s Health, the association’s official newspaper, and the American Journal of Public Health, the profession’s premier scientific publication. He is the author of more than 200 scientific articles and book chapters. His recent book Public Health Under Siege: Improving Policy in Turbulent Times explores the impact of policy on our nation’s health and offers specific actions to improve health and extend life expectancy. He is also the author of The Quest for Health Reform: A Satirical History, an exposé of the nearly 100-year quest to ensure quality affordable health coverage for all using political cartoons.
Benjamin is an active member of the National Academy of Public Administration and the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. He serves on the boards of many nonprofit organizations including Research!America, the Truth Initiative, the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA, the Environmental Defense Fund and Ceres. Dr. Benjamin is also a former member of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which advises the president on how best to assure the security of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
In 2008, 2014 and 2016, he was named one of the top 25 minority executives in health care by Modern Healthcare Magazine, in addition to being voted among the 100 most influential people in health care from 2007-2018 and in 2021-2022. In 2023, Washingtonian Magazine voted Dr. Benjamin one of the 500 most influential people shaping health policy.