Michelle A. Gourdine, M.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Michelle Gourdine and Associates LLC
Dr. Michelle A. Gourdine is a Pediatrician and health policy specialist whose work focuses on addressing the cultural and social forces that contribute to health inequities. As an author and speaker, she seeks to empower individuals to make better health choices for themselves, their families, and their communities. Her book, Reclaiming Our Health: A Guide to African American Wellness (Yale University Press), reveals the unique cultural and environmental factors that influence African American health, and provides motivation and steps for readers to follow to live longer, healthier lives.
As CEO and Principal Consultant for Michelle Gourdine and Associates LLC, her belief in the right of every human being to be healthy. This drives her firm’s special emphasis on improving the health of disadvantaged communities. Michelle Gourdine and Associates is dedicated to creating a health care system in which all people benefit equally by developing policies that make the healthy choice the easy and affordable choice.
Dr. Gourdine’s career in medicine and public health leadership has spanned nearly 20 years. She was appointed Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) in January 2005. As the principal public health administrator and Chief Public Health Physician in Maryland, her leadership responsibilities included implementing healthcare delivery services, establishing public health policy, regulations and legislative initiatives, and developing strategies to reduce health disparities. She oversaw the administration and operation of sixteen state-run health care facilities, including two hospitals for the chronically ill; four institutions for the developmentally disabled and 10 inpatient hospital centers for the mentally ill. In addition, Dr. Gourdine oversaw eight administrations, including Alcohol and Drug Abuse, AIDS, the State Laboratory, Community Health, Developmental Disabilities, Family Health, Mental Health, and Public Health Preparedness and Response, along with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Anatomy Board, and 24 local health departments. As Deputy Secretary, Dr. Gourdine supervised a staff of 6000 and was responsible for an annual budget of over $1.2 billion.
Dr. Gourdine’s public health career began in 1995, when County Executive C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger appointed her Baltimore County Health Officer. One of the largest, most diverse jurisdictions in Maryland, the Baltimore County Health Department provided healthcare services to nearly 800,000 residents. As the County Health Officer, Dr. Gourdine supervised a staff of nearly five hundred with an annual budget of almost $40 million. During her tenure, she focused on ensuring quality health care services that included disease prevention, emergency preparedness, health education and promotion, hospital support services and substance abuse treatment, prevention and education programs. One of her most significant contributions to healthcare delivery was the creation of the Partner’s Health Improvement Program, an innovative collaboration among two hospitals, Kaiser Permanente, and the Baltimore County Department of Health that offered comprehensive health coverage to Baltimore County’s “working poor”–low income, uninsured residents who did not qualify for Medicaid or other public assistance.
A graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Gourdine served her residency in the Department of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Upon completion of her specialty training, she worked as a pediatrician in private practice in Mississippi. In 1993, she joined the Johns Hopkins Medical Services Corporation, Johnson Medical Center in Baltimore. Her experiences practicing in both rural and urban underserved communities resulted in a better understanding of the myriad social issues which contribute to today’s public health challenges, and a commitment to ensuring quality health care for all.
She is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and a Senior Associate in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Gourdine is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. In 1997, Dr. Gourdine was appointed one of forty national scholars to the Public Health Leadership Institute. The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School Public Health awarded Dr. Gourdine the 2001 Public Health Service Award.
She was also named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women in 2001, 2003 and 2005 and named Woman of the Year by Baltimore County in 2002.
Throughout her career, she has felt compelled to not simply treat disease, but keep people from getting sick in the first place. She noticed that people of color and poor people always seemed to get sicker and die younger, and grew weary of seeing people who look like her suffering the most from the consequences of poor health. She wrote her new book, Reclaiming Our Health: A Guide to African American Wellness (Yale University Press), because African Americans are affected by obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, and other serious health conditions at far greater rates than other Americans. Her advice and book have been recently highlighted in the Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, Essence Magazine, and the New York Times.
Dr. Gourdine is one of the nation’s leading communicators of health information and is trained in risk communication. Her practical advice has won her the trust of audiences nationwide and garnered numerous speaking requests from organizations including the American Diabetes Association, the Institute of Medicine, the Black Entertainment Television Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the National Urban League, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Howard University, 100 Black Men of America, the Black Women’s Health Imperative and the National Association of Health Services Executives.