Who is Don Berwick?
Don Berwick is a pediatrician, executive and international leader of remarkable change. For over 30 years, he has dedicated his career to saving lives, strengthening communities, and setting and exceeding goals that were previously thought to be impossible. Now he is running for Governor because, as the public continues to lose faith in the ability of government to solve problems, this nation needs an example – a beacon – to show the rest of the nation that bold, progressive leadership truly can deliver for the people.
Don has called Massachusetts home for decades – first as a student, then as a pediatrician, a teacher, and a CEO. Don and his wife Ann live in the same Newton house where they raised their four children and now play with their three grandchildren.
Pediatrician, Executive and Leader
Don followed in his father’s footsteps and became a pediatrician, graduating from Harvard Medical School and practicing at both Boston Children’s Hospital and the Harvard Community Health Plan (HCHP). At HCHP, he served primarily underprivileged kids from communities of color. He learned that caring for Massachusetts’ children also meant improving the hospitals, health systems, and communities that families depend on.
In 1991, with a small seed grant, he founded the non-profit Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and grew it to international stature. Today, IHI employs 150 people in Cambridge and operates on a $40 million annual budget. For nearly 20 years Don led projects and massive initiatives credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States and around the world. The most famous of these, the 100,000 Lives Campaign, involved nearly every hospital in America.
During his tenure at IHI, Don was also a close advisor to the World Health Organization and many national leaders; in 2005, he was knighted by the Queen of England for his work making British health care more efficient.
President Obama’s choice to lead Medicare and Medicaid
In 2010, the President asked Don to go to Washington to lead the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Don took charge of an agency with a budget over $800 billion—larger than the Pentagon’s—and led a staff of more than 5,500 people. At one of the most critical times in our nation’s history, Don implemented many of the most important provisions of the Affordable Care Act, ensuring that young people can stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26, kids with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied the care they need, and insurance companies are subjected to new levels of transparency.
The toxic politics of Washington cut short Don’s time there. Right-wing pundits attacked his commitment to equality and health care for all. Glenn Beck labeled him the “second most dangerous man in America.” Senate Republicans vowed to filibuster his confirmation. In the face of the same Republicans who blocked Elizabeth Warren’s confirmation to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Don was forced to step aside after only 17 months leading Medicaid and Medicare.
In the face of Republican obstructionism, his commitment to the progressive ideals of social justice, equality, and compassion never wavered. He was inspired by the ability of government to help society’s most vulnerable and alleviate poverty. His time in Washington showed him that this nation needs a beacon—an example that the progressive agenda can deliver results for the people. And he was excited by Massachusetts’ potential—the Commonwealth was the first state that committed to health care as a human right; that said you can marry who you love; that built an energy system that is the envy of the world. In 2013, he decided to put his decades of executive experience to use and announced his candidacy for Governor of Massachusetts.
Candidate for Governor
Don is running for Governor because he believes we should unapologetically recommit to passing the moral test—to a government guided by the progressive values of social justice, equality and compassion.
Far too many politicians are motivated by fear and timidity—they refuse to talk about poverty because it doesn’t poll well; they make promises but are unwilling to upset the status quo to take the action necessary to achieve them.
Don’s career has been defined by setting bold goals—goals no one thinks are achievable—and achieving them. This campaign is no different. Don’s vision for Massachusetts is ambitious:
- Single payer health care — like Medicare for All
- An education system that gives every student — no matter his or her ZIP Code — the opportunity to succeed
- Bold renewable energy and environmental goals — aim to be the first carbon-neutral state
- Jobs and an economy that gives everyone the chance to thrive
- Ending child poverty and chronic homelessness
With a bold agenda and three decades of experience meeting and exceeding ambitious goals, Don’s candidacy presents a unique opportunity for Massachusetts to be the beacon the nation so badly needs.