Class: 1965Inducted: 2014
Phyllis graduated from George Washington University and went on to earn her Master's degree at Northeastern University in Speech and Language Pathology. Her early clinical work was devoted to young children with autism and developmental delays. She gravitated to a career in public health policy, ultimately benefiting the lives of millions.
While in Massachusetts, Phyllis developed a model program "The Preschool Enrichment Team" which structured the preschool environment to promote healthy development. Then, as the nation's first Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Disabled Children's Program Director, she enginnered screening clinics across the Commonwealth to evaluate medical conditions of children who had no access to medical care.
She joined New York State government in 1978 and assumed increasingly responsible positions in the Empire State's health arena, with a focus on children. As the Advocate for Children's Health, she developed school-based health centers, a statewide immunization registry, and services for children with developmental delays. She authored New York's first major report on reforms to improve services to vulnerable children.
Following the widespread adoption of managed care in the early to mid-1990s, Phyllis oversaw the implementation of NY's Medicaid managed care program, negotiating with federal officials to craft a program with the highest standards, including quality measures and tools to evaluate health plan performance, network adequacy, and consumer access.
As the Deputy Director of the NYS Office of Public Health, Phyllis led New York's public health programs, overseeing vital activities including: the State's clinical and environmental laboratories; New York's AIDS programs; regulation of environmental contaminants in air, water, and food; the state's activities on nutrition; health screenings, immunizations; tobacco control; infant, child, and women's health; public health surveillance; disease control and emergency preparedness; and response activities. Phyllis earned plaudits during her years of service in New York, including awards for: community organizing to combat the 1990 NYC measles epidemic; the enrollment of 400,000 women and children in managed care plans, oversight of vaccine distribution for the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic in New York State, and recognition of Family Planning advocates of NY.
Following her retirement from government, Phyllis has continued to pursue her passionate interest in public health and health care quality as the Director of the Partnership for Quality Care, a labor/management coalition of national hospital and health care systems and 1.5M SEIU members. She has been instrumental in developing a national learning laboratory for workplace wellness and targeting a mortality from sepsis and hospital-acquired infections.
During the fall of 2013, Phyllis issued a study of New York's health and mental health services for children in foster care that recommended reforms to enhance care and improve outcomes for this very vulnerable population of children and youth.
Throughout her 3-year career, Phyllis has focused on enhancing the lives and health of underserved and neglected populations and her legacy continues through the many innovative and successful programs she helped pioneer. She now divides her time between Albany and New York City and relishes spending time with her two children, David and Rachael.