Baldwin builds career in public health policy

Joseph Trumpler

Megan Baldwin ’07 (MBA) supported all aspects of New York’s response to COVID-19 as assistant secretary of health. Now, she is special advisor to the chancellor for public health policy for the State University of New York system.

Megan Baldwin ’07 (MBA) was one of the first to know when COVID-19 hit New York.

Baldwin, assistant secretary of health in the New York State Executive Chamber, received a call in the middle of the night from the health commissioner alerting her to New York’s first positive case.

“We had a 6 o’clock meeting the next morning with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and it was all hands on deck,” Baldwin said. “COVID was here. It had been here in the community, and we had to catch up.”

The staffers had to balance the health crisis, growing public fear, and economic worries.

Baldwin supported all aspects of the response effort, from adding lab capacity, to building testing programs in the community, to providing personal protective equipment to health care workers, and making policies around hospital visitations.

She assisted senior staff to work through those issues and managed the department of health to ensure policy and implementation follow through.

“It became evident that COVID was everywhere—in our hospitals, nursing homes, in the community,” Baldwin said.

At the same time, she also was working to finalize the New York state budget process and to close a $4 billion gap in the Medicaid program. “It was a whirlwind,” she said. “It was probably June or July when I came up for air.”

After four-and-a-half years in Cuomo’s administration, Baldwin, in October 2020, became the special advisor to the chancellor for public health policy for the State University of New York system.

The SUNY system consists of 64 higher education institutions, including three teaching hospitals and five medical schools. (Baldwin is both a SUNY and an RIT alumna. She earned her BA in business management from SUNY Brockport before coming to RIT through a four-plus-one program between the two universities.)

A month after she started her new position at SUNY, the governor’s office asked her to join the vaccine task force. Baldwin helped oversee vaccine allocation, distribution, and eligibility, and worked closely with the Department of Health and providers to ensure equity across New York state. When college students were finally eligible for the vaccine, Baldwin returned to SUNY to help implement a rollout plan across the system.

Throughout her time on the state’s vaccine task force, Baldwin helped write SUNY’s reopening policy and testing plans, and advised on the vaccine mandate.

Now, Baldwin is looking forward to focusing on SUNY’s three hospitals and four academic health centers and collaborating with the college and university campuses on women’s health and LGBTQ+ health policies. “And I want to make sure students have the mental health services they need coming out of COVID, especially because it’s been a really hard year-and-a-half for everyone.”

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