Laurie Zephyrin, MD: Public Health as Destiny

March 23rd, 2020 |
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Dr. Laurie Zephyrin was disappointed to learn that a less-than-rock-star voice was going to stand in the way of her career as a singer, but fortunately she locked onto her healthcare destiny in her teens.  A formative moment in high school set Laurie Zephyrin in the direction of public health and she has never looked back. This path has taken her through the White House, the Veterans’ Administration, into tiny villages in Africa and back to New York City.  Through it all, Laurie is  always seeking to drive towards a high-performing healthcare system, and especially one that effectively meet the needs of underserved populations.

Laurie went to medical school and became an OB/Gyn, heavily influenced by Dr. Jack Geiger at CCNY, who was a leader in bringing the concept of community-based care and the importance of human rights and social determinants of health to the fore.

She spent time after as a White House fellow, assigned to the Veterans Administration to assist with the medical impact of Hurricane Katrina, among other things.  After a stint in community practice, Laurie returned to the VA as the first National Director of the Reproductive Health Program, where she had to undertake a major system redesign to transition a program designed to serve male soldiers to one that served all genders well. In 2016-2017, she became Acting Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Community Care, and later Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Community Care, managing a $13B budget in a system that was getting a lot of publicity, not always the good kind.

Along the way Laurie became a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and then Aspen Institute Health Innovation Fellow (where she met Lisa).  She also earned an M.B.A. and M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins University to augment her M.D. degree from the New York University School of Medicine.

Laurie recently left government to broaden her impact on public health through her leadership role at the Commonwealth Fund, one of the first private foundations started by a woman in 1918. It’s a perfect match in many ways, given The Commonwealth Fund’s mission to promote a high-performing health care system and Laurie’s commitment to improving health for all, but especially women.

Tech Tonics is sponsored by Manatt Health, a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that includes a full service law firm and a broad-based strategic business and policy consulting practice to help clients grow and prosper.  Manatt Health supports the full range of stakeholders in transforming America’s healthcare system.

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