Dr. Mary Bassett has dedicated her career to health advocacy, with more than 30 years of experience in hospitals and at non-profits.
After Dr. Bassett received her MD, she moved to Harare, Zimbabwe, where she was served on the medical faculty at the University of Zimbabwe. She spent 17 years in Zimbabwe, consulting for nonprofits including UNICEF and the World Bank. She was also the Associate Director of Health Equity at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Southern Africa Office.
In 2002, she was appointed Deputy Commissioner of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she oversaw campaigns banning smoking and trans fats in restaurants, and requiring restaurants to post calorie counts. She also helped establish the District Public Health Offices (DPHOs) in East and Central Harlem, the South Bronx, and North and Central Brooklyn to lead targeted strategies in health and communication in these communities. Each DPHO is led by a physician, and the programs include home visiting programs, free exercise programs, and meetings with area doctors to improve care and advance health-promotion policies with local coalitions.
Most recently, she has served as Program Director for the African Health Initiative and the Child Abuse Prevention Program at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, focusing on strengthening health systems in projects in Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.
Dr. Bassett grew up in New York City, received her B.A. in History and Science from Harvard, and her M.D. from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. She was a Resident at Harlem Hospital Center and also has a Masters’ in Public Health from University of Washington.