Governor-Elect Josh Shapiro Calls on Dr. Debra Bogen as Pa. Secretary of Health

The Allegheny County health director led the Pittsburgh region through the pandemic.

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Governor-Elect Josh Shapiro has nominated Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen to be the next Pennsylvania secretary of health.

Bogen was announced with four other picks for Shapiro’s administration — Dr. Val Arkoosh in human services, Jason Kavulich in aging, Dr. Latika Davis-Jones in drug and alcohol programs and Mike Humphreys in insurance.

“The health and wellbeing of Pennsylvanians is critical to our success as a commonwealth, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work with Governor-Elect Shapiro to serve the healthcare needs of people across Pennsylvania,” Bogen said in an interview with WESA. “In Allegheny County, we’ve brought people together to expand access to clinical care, advocate for family and child health, and protect the most vulnerable. I am excited to advance the Shapiro Administration’s agenda and to make evidence-informed decisions to improve the health and wellbeing of all of our residents.”

Bogen has led the Allegheny County Health Department since 2020, most notably through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are so proud of Dr. Bogen and thrilled to see this next step in her extraordinary career,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a statement.  “We have been fortunate to have her serve the residents of Allegheny County for the last nearly three years and look forward to all that she will do on behalf of the entire commonwealth’s residents.”

When Bogen was hired in 2020 after the departure of Dr. Karen Hacker, Fitzgerald added, she answered the call and helped to lead the department and the county through its response to the pandemic, including efforts to provide COVID testing in underserved communities and devise plans for the vaccine rollout.

Fitzgerald also credits Bogen for growing and building the Health Department to ensure needs for ongoing public education were met by compiling vital health statistics, controlling communicable diseases, enforcing environmental regulations and other programs that “protect and improve the health of the county’s residents.”

He also touted the department’s accomplishments in improving the county’s air quality over the last few years.

“That work has resulted in the filing of documentation with the EPA showing that the county’s average concentration over the past three years has been below the national standard set by the agency. As a result, the county is expected to be redesignated as in attainment with PM2.5 later this year.”

Prior to her appointment, Bogen was a member of the medical and research community for more than two decades. She held a primary academic appointment as a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh and secondary appointments in psychiatry and clinical and translational science. For the past three years, she served as the vice chair of education for the Department of Pediatrics at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Bogen earned her medical degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and completed both her pediatric residency and General Academic Pediatrics fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She is one of the founders of the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank and serves as the organization’s volunteer medical director. 

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