Former NYC Assistant Commissioner Daliah Heller, PhD, MPH, joins the Center for Health Media and Policy (CHMP) at Hunter College this year as a Visiting Scholar. She is initiating a project, entitled SHIFT – Shaping Health Initiatives For Transformation (SHIFT) on drugs and alcohol – to promote opportunities for mainstreaming substance use services in health care and public health systems. This fulltime position is funded by a grant from the Open Society.
Over the year, Dr. Heller’s work will involve two main activities. First, she will be interviewing and organizing doctors and nurses from around the country to build support for integrating substance use into health care systems and improving drug and alcohol policies. Second, she will be exploring and advocating health policy approaches for substance use services.
Heller sees this work as crucial for helping people with drug and alcohol problems. “The negative health and social consequences of drug use can be devastating for individuals, families, and communities. To change this, we must shift from treating it as a criminal problem to recognizing it as the health and public health problem that can be prevented and managed.”
Daliah Heller has worked at the intersection of public health and substance use for the past fifteen years in New York City. Her work spans leadership roles in both the governmental and not-for-profit sectors, and includes developing and managing community-based programs, conducting epidemiologic research and program evaluation, implementing system-wide initiatives, and analyzing and advancing public policy. Most recently, until November 2011, she served four years as an Assistant Commissioner at the New York City Health Department, responsible for the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, Care, and Treatment.