Dr. Robert Otto Valdez, Ph.D., M.H.S.A., was appointed Director of AHRQ in February 2022. He was previously the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Professor Emeritus of Family & Community Medicine and Economics at the University of New Mexico (UNM). He received his Ph.D. from the Pardee RAND Graduate School for Public Policy Studies specializing in studies of healthcare financing and quality of medical care. At the University of Michigan School of Public Health, he was awarded a master’s degree in Health Policy & Administration. At Harvard University, Dr. Valdez studied in the Department of History and Science specializing in Latin American history and Biochemistry.
In 2008, Dr. Valdez was the Founding Executive Director of the RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM. He previously served as founding Dean at the Drexel University School of Public Health. From 1985 through 1999, he was Professor of Health Services at the UCLA School of Public Health and directed the health services doctoral studies program, the MBA/MPH program in collaboration with the UCLA Anderson School of Business, and served as associate director of the Chicano Studies Research Center.
Dr. Valdez started his career as the lead child health researcher for the historic RAND Health Insurance Experiment. Internationally recognized as an expert in health services research, the U.S. healthcare system, and health policy analysis, he has led numerous global healthcare initiatives with the Pan American Health Organization and the University of California. His health promotion and disease prevention work with Univision Communications Corporation, “Salud es Vida: ¡Enterate!” was recognized with journalism’s prestigious Peabody Award.
From 1993 through 1997, Dr. Valdez served at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (Public Health Service) and simultaneously as Director of Interagency Health Policy (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).
Prior to joining DHHS in 1993, he served as a Special Senior Advisor to the White House on healthcare reform. In 1998, he served as Special Senior Advisor to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. His public service includes serving as Chairman of the New Mexico Community Foundation, Chairman of the American Hospital Association Foster G McGaw Prize Committee, and Chairman of the Public Health Institute, one of the nation’s largest non-profit public health agencies serving communities across California and internationally.