Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Mary Pittman, DrPH

PHI President and Chief Executive Officer

Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, is president and chief executive officer of the Public Health Institute (PHI). A nationally recognized leader in improving community health, addressing health inequities among vulnerable people and promoting quality of care, Pittman assumed the reins at PHI in 2008, becoming the organization's second president and CEO since its founding in 1964. Her primary focus has been guiding the development of a strategic plan that builds on existing PHI program strengths to achieve greater impact on public policy and practice in public health. "In a changing environment, strategic planning is an ongoing process, not an end product," she said.

Pittman's overarching goal is for PHI to become known for leadership in creating healthier communities. To this end, PHI continues to work closely with the state on many programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. What's more, she advocates that all PHI projects take the social determinants of health into account to better address health disparities and inequities.

Under Pittman's leadership, PHI has emphasized support for the Affordable Care Act and the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the integration of new technologies and the expansion of global health programming. Other top priorities are: increasing advocacy for public policy and health reform, and addressing health workforce shortages and the impacts of climate change on public health. Under Pittman, PHI has created Dialogue4Health.com, the online platform for conferencing and social networking, and has been recognized as a preferred place to work. She strives for PHI's independent investigators to work together to achieve a synergy in which the sum of their contributions is greater than the whole.

Pittman has deep, varied and multi-sectoral experience in local public health, research, education and hospitals. Before joining PHI, Pittman headed the Health Research and Educational Trust, a Chicago-based affiliate of the American Hospital Association, from 1993 to 2007. Previously, she was president and CEO of the California Association of Public Hospitals and a director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Pittman has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and two books.

She has served on the PHI board of directors since 1996. Pittman also serves on numerous boards and committees, including the World Health Organization's Health Worker Migration Global Policy Advisory Council and the National Patient Safety Foundation's board of governors.

Mobility of Health Professionals and Impact on National Health Systems

This project is part of a larger European Union (EU)-sponsored study of 27 countries looking at the current trends in the mobility of health professionals (primarily focusing on doctors and nurses). This component focused on the United States and Canada. The research looks at migration to, from, and within the EU and developing countries.

National Opioid Leadership Summit 2019

Opioid use disorder isn’t contained by the walls of a cell, hospital or treatment center—and our interventions can’t be either. On June 25, 2019, the Public Health Institute hosted U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and colleagues from across the country in Sacramento to learn about, share and collaborate on real solutions to the opioid crisis that bridge the criminal justice, health care and public health sectors.Funders, national leaders and local innovators from across the country gathered for a solution-driven summit meant that sparked  new ideas and new collaborations, all presented through TED-style talks, keynotes and interactive breakouts.

Speakers included:

  • VADM Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, Surgeon General of the United States

  • Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, Chief Executive Officer and President, Public Health Institute

  • Hailey Akah, JD, Health Policy Analyst, Health Policy Institute of Ohio; Aliese Alter, Program Manager, Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas; John Auerbach, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer, Trust for America’s Health; Grant T. Baldwin, PhD, MPH, Director, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Brenna Banwarth-Kuhn, Lead, AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America, California Opioid Safety Network, Public Health Institute; Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health; and Associate Professor, Boston University School of Medicine; Debra Camarillo, MA, CATC I, Executive Director, The Latino Commission; Ruben Cantu, Program Manager, Prevention Institute; Phillip Coffin, MD, MIA, Director, Substance Use Research, San Francisco Department of Public Health; Curtis Florence, PhD, Lead Health Economist, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Joshua Hudson, Healing to Wellness Court Judge, Bay Mills Tribal Court; and Program Manager, Bay Mills Tribal Court, Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan; Allie Hunter, MA, Executive Director, Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative; Randy Jernejcic, MD, MMM, Vice President of Clinical Integration, University Hospitals of Cleveland; Marshall Kubota, MD, Regional Medical Director, Partnership HealthPlan of California; Rosemarie Martin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Behavioral and Social Sciences, Brown University School of Public Health; Carmen Nevarez, MD, MPH, Vice President of External Relations and Preventive Medicine, Director of the California Opioid Safety Network, Public Health Institute; Kris Nyrop, MA, Director of Harm Reduction Practices, Public Defender Association; Yngvild K. Olsen, MD, MPH, DFASAM, Medical Director, Institutes for Behavior Resources/Recovery Enhanced by Access to Comprehensive Healthcare (REACH) Health Services; and Co-author, The Opioid Epidemic: What Everyone Needs to Know; Howard Padwa, PhD, Principal Investigator, UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs; Marlies Perez, MA, Division Chief, California Department of Health Care Services; Kelly Pfeifer, MD, Director, High-Value Care, California Health Care Foundation; Bonnie Preston, MSPH, Executive Officer, Region IX Office of the Regional Director, United States Department of Health and Human Services; Arianna Sampson, PA-C, Director of the Rural Bridge Program and Northern California Regional Director, California Bridge Program; and Co-Principal Investigator, California Bridge Substance Use Navigator (SUN) Program; Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, Professor of the Practice in Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins; Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Co-author, The Opioid Epidemic: What Everyone Needs to Know; Karen L. Smith, MD, MPH, Director and State Public Health Officer, California Department of Public Health; Hannah Snyder, MD, Health Science Clinical Assistant Professor, Family and Community Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; and Director of Inpatient Services, California Bridge Program; Wendy Still, MAS, Chief Probation Officer, Alameda County; Donna Strugar-Fritsch, BSN, MPA, Principal, Health Management Associates; Phillip Talbert, MEc, JD, First Assistant United States Attorney, The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, United States Department of Justice; Mildred Thompson, MSW, Health Equity Consultant, MT Design and Consulting; Matt Willis, MD, MPH, Public Health Officer, County of Marin.




PHI's Mary Pittman and Linda Rudolph on KPFA's "About Health" (2017)

The role of public health can often go unseen by the general public—until there's a crisis. What can we do to change this perception? How...

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Leadership for the Public’s Health: Legacy of the Healthy Communities Movement (2014)

PHI CEO Mary Pittman contributes to the National Civic Review's special edition honoring 25 years of the Healthy Communities Movement. "Th...

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PHI50 Videos (2014)

In honor of our 50th anniversary in 2014, PHI created a series of videos that looked back at what public health has accomplished in the last half c...

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PHI Letter to White House regarding Tobacco Control and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (2013)

October 3, 2013 President Barack H. Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500   Dear Mr. Pre...

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Multisectoral Lessons from Healthy Communities (2010)

The healthy communities movement can provide insight into population health efforts in the United States, particularly in the context of recent hea...

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Population Health

Access to high-quality, affordable health care is critical. Yet health is also heavily determined by factors outside the doctor’s office, fro...

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Social Determinants of Health

Malnutrition, food insecurity and hunger often go hand-in-hand with obesity and chronic disease. Many vulnerable families live in neighborhoods tha...

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