Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner of Health
Mary O’Dowd was serving as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services when she was nominated by Governor Chris Christie on March 25, 2011 to serve as the state’s health commissioner. She has wide ranging experience in the health care field with a focus on management and finances. Ms. O'Dowd served as Deputy Commissioner of the Department since March 2010. In that capacity she oversaw the areas of Healthcare Financing, Health Facilities Evaluation and Licensing, Senior Benefits and Utilization Management and Aging and Community Services.
During O’Dowd’s time as Deputy Commissioner, New Jersey significantly increased its financial support to hospitals through the Department’s Charity Care program and also reformed the program to make it more equitable and predictable. Specifically, despite the unprecedented fiscal crisis facing the State of New Jersey, she led the effort to secure an $85 million increase in Charity Care funding for fiscal year 2011 as well as ensuring that funding for prescription drug assistance programs for New Jersey seniors was not reduced.
Prior to serving as Deputy Commissioner, O’Dowd previously served as Chief of Staff for the Department from January 2008 to March 2010. As Chief of Staff she managed a workforce of more than 1,800 employees and a budget of nearly $3 billion. In this role O’Dowd shaped the Department’s policy in the areas of health care delivery, senior services, public health, and emergency preparedness.
Before joining the Department, Ms. O’Dowd managed Revenue Cycle Operations for the Emergency Department at NYU Medical Center where she developed quality assurance programs to achieve goals related to productivity and financial metrics. Additionally, she worked as a Legislative Aide for the NJ General Assembly on education and healthcare issues, and as Assistant Vice President of Legislation & Policy with the New Jersey Hospital Association.
Ms. O’Dowd is a graduate of Douglass College, Rutgers University and holds a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She also completed a fellowship in hospital finance at NYU Medical Center.
Ms. O’Dowd currently serves on the Rutgers Institute for Women’s Leadership Board and chairs the Institute for Women’s Leadership Scholar’s Program Alumnae Board. She was recently ranked number 8 on NJ Biz’s 50 most powerful people in New Jersey Health Care.
Commissioner O’Dowd was born and raised in New Jersey currently resides in the city of New Brunswick with her husband.
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Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.