Sylvia M. Burwell


American University

Sylvia M. Burwell is American University’s 15th President and the first woman to serve as President. Burwell served as the 22nd U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2014 to 2017. During her service as Secretary, she led the implementation of efforts to reform the health care delivery system and the Affordable Care Act, and mitigated public health threats like outbreaks of the Ebola virus and the Zika virus.

From 2013 to 2014, Burwell served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, where she worked with members of both parties in Congress to negotiate a two-year budget deal following the first shutdown of the federal government in 17 years.

Prior to her service as Director of OMB, Burwell was President of the Walmart Foundation. She spent 11 years at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, including roles as Chief Operating Officer and President of the Global Development Program, where she focused on reducing hunger and poverty through increased agricultural development, helping more communities receive clean water and sufficient sanitation, and expanding access to financial services

Burwell also served in the Clinton Administration, as Deputy Director of OMB, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President of the United States, Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Treasury, and Special Assistant to the Director of the National Economic Council.

She currently serves on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative.

She earned undergraduate degrees in government from Harvard University and in philosophy, policy, and economics from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. Sylvia and Stephen Burwell are the parents of two young children.

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