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'Public Health Saved Your Life Today. You Just Didn’t Know It.' [Episode 2]

That's the mantra of Dr. Leana Wen, the health commissioner of Baltimore and our guest for the latest episode of "The 23%: Conversations With Women in Government."

"We're framing every social ill around health," says Wen.
For the second episode of "The 23%: Conversations With Women in Government," I chatted with Leana Wen, the health commissioner of Baltimore.

Growing up as a Chinese immigrant in a rough area of Los Angeles, Wen quickly saw the ways in which public health impacts everyday life. These days, her mantra is: “Public health saved your life today. You just didn’t know it.”

Her dizzying resume includes graduating from college at 18, a master’s from the University of Oxford and a clinical fellowship at Harvard Medical School. When Baltimore came calling in 2014, Dr. Wen was practicing and teaching medicine in D.C.

Only a few months into her first venture in public service, Baltimore was uprooted with riots after the police-involved death of Freddie Gray. In this episode, Dr. Wen talks about how her office worked quickly to deploy various public health initiatives to get the city back on its feet. She also discusses her aggressive tactics against the opioid epidemic, which caught the attention of President Obama.

Listen below. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or check out our archives.


*CORRECTION: This has been updated to accurately reflect the year that Wen was hired as health commissioner of Baltimore.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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