Dr. Sonia Angell gave up journalism to become a public health leader

Following your dream may not always seem to be what makes you happiest. Dr. Sonia Angell, MD, MPH, found that out for herself while volunteering in Nepal with the Peace Corps. She wanted to be a writer and loved journalism, but soon discovered that what she loved more was working with communities, so she decided to become a public health leader.

Graduating from the University of Michigan with a Master’s in Public Health, and earning an MD from the University of California, San Francisco, Sonia Angell was on her way to becoming a public health advocate.

Before being the first Latina appointed as Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) by Governor Newsom, Dr. Sonia Angell, had already been affecting global public policy when she joined the American Heart Association and became co-chair of its 2030 Global Task Setting Force.

She has raised issues surrounding the food industry and worked with food companies as part of the National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative to make foods healthier. She has advocated for easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables and in 2006, she worked with New York City restaurants, through the Trans Fat Help Center, to ban trans-fat, which increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. It was officially banned in 2015 by the FDA.

Dr. Sonia Angell oversaw the Division of Prevention and Primary Care as the Deputy of Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She then became the founding director of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control Program.

She has promoted public health programs and policies that assist with quitting smoking, eating healthier, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and receiving better health care. She has also been a physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital, so health education is very important to her.

She has served in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a senior advisor in Global Noncommunicable Disease and has worked with the Pan American Health Organization as an independent consultant. She has been honored with the AHA’s Award and won the American Heart Association’s 2019 Award. Dr. Sonia Angell is an exemplary public health leader who has made America healthier.

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