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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
June 03, 2011

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Mary O'Dowd Sworn in by Governor Chris Christie As Health and Senior Services Commissioner


Today, Governor Chris Christie administered the oath of office to Mary E. O’Dowd as Commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services in a swearing-in ceremony held at the Department’s Trenton offices.


“With her strong background in public health, Mary will be a champion for improving and protecting the health of all New Jerseyans,” said Governor Christie. “I am confident Mary will use her health policy and hospital finance expertise to strengthen the state’s health care delivery system and enhance access to health services for our residents."


Commissioner O’Dowd, 33, has wide-ranging experience in health care policy and hospital management and finance. The commissioner has worked at the Department for three and a half years under two administrations as acting commissioner, deputy commissioner and chief of staff. She is a graduate of Douglass College, Rutgers University and holds a Master's Degree in Public Health from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.


O'Dowd served as Deputy Commissioner of the Department for a year before being nominated by Governor Christie on March 25, 2011 to serve as the state’s health commissioner.  As Deputy Commissioner, O'Dowd oversaw several areas of the Department: Healthcare Financing; Facilities Evaluation and Licensing; Aging and Community Services and Senior Benefits. O’Dowd served as chief of staff for the Department from January 2008 to March 2010.


Prior to joining the Department, O’Dowd completed a fellowship in hospital finance at NYU and then worked for three years in the Emergency Department at NYU.


As deputy commissioner, O’Dowd helped to significantly increase funding for hospitals and reformed charity care to make it more transparent and predictable.  Despite an unprecedented fiscal crisis in the current state fiscal year, Commissioner O’Dowd worked closely with Governor Christie to add $85 million in charity care to the Department's budget. She also worked with Governor Christie to ensure that funding was preserved for the state's popular discount prescription drug programs for seniors. Nearly 164,000 low-income seniors and disabled residents benefit from Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) and Senior Gold.


As chief of staff, O’Dowd coordinated the state’s response to the emergence of a novel flu virus, which required collaboration with federal, state, county and local officials, schools, health care providers and other partners. Working closely with the Department’s physician leaders and local public health officials, the state was able to control the spread of H1N1 and achieve a successful vaccination program.


O’Dowd recently moved to Princeton with her husband, Kevin. They are expecting their first child at the end of the month. 

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