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Sheila Burke

Health Policy Distinguished Honoree - NASI at 25: Celebrating Milestones and Envisioning the Future of Social Insurance

Sheila Burke, RN, MPA, FAAN, is an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Faculty Research Fellow at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy.  She also serves as a Senior Public Policy Advisor at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz.  She is committed to ensuring the health care agenda remains a topic of discussion and debate on the national level.  Burke’s passion for health care programs has focused her efforts on developing a workable plan for the millions of Americans who, despite the economic conditions and fluctuations through the years, remain uninsured.  “As congressional staff, an educator, a policy professional and a nurse, Sheila's been a lifelong leader in health policy and health reform.  We're extraordinarily lucky that she keeps on navigating the policy and political world to move the ball forward,” says Judy Feder, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Prior to her involvements in academia, Burke worked as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Senate Committee on Finance, the Secretary of the Senate, and the Chief of Staff to Senator Bob Dole (R KS) in the Office of the Minority and then Majority Leader.  In this last capacity in particular, she demonstrated her talent for bringing diverse perspectives to the table for careful consideration and evaluation.  Burke’s ability to master detail and grasp key discussion points, along with her tireless dedication to working through issues from every possible angle, has earned her the praise and respect of Republicans and Democrats alike.  She also played an integral role in shaping the 1983 Medicare prospective payment system law and much of the health care legislation of the 1980s and 1990s, making her a recognized leader in the fields of Medicare, Medicaid and Long-Term Care.

Burke served as the Executive Dean at the Kennedy School of Government from 1996 to 2000.  She then left to join the Smithsonian Institution as Under Secretary for American Museums and National Programs.  In 2004, she became Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the Smithsonian, a position in which she served until her return to Harvard as a lecturer in 2007.  In addition to being responsible for all financial and administrative activities of the Smithsonian, Burke worked extensively with the Smithsonian’s Advisory Boards, donors and governing body – the Board of Regents.

As one of the founding members of the National Academy of Social Insurance, Burke has actively voiced opinions about Social Security and health care.  Over the years, Burke has chaired NASI’s Study Panel on Medicare Management and Governance, and co-chaired NASI’s Study Panel on Long-Term Care.  Not only is Burke a valued member of the Academy, but she has also served in leadership capacities as a member of the Institute of Medicine, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

To those extensively involved in the field, Burke remains a recognized leader in Medicare, Medicaid and long-term care. She demonstrates a unique talent in developing cross-sector leadership across major stakeholders in health reform.  She serves on the boards of The Chubb Corporation and WellPoint Inc., is a member of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, the Board of Visitors of Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, The Partnership for Public Service, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Bringing together her knowledge of academia, non-profit work and government involvement, she has had a profound impact on strengthening and improving health policy.

Burke was recognized as the distinguished honoree for health policy at NASI's 25th anniversary celebration held on June 8, 2011 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC.