Anita Reyes

Sloan Public Service Awards • 2023

Title and Organization Assistant Commissioner of Health, NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene


Anita Reyes is a Bronx native, though as a small child she spent several years in the Dominican Republic, the country from which both her parents emigrated. Growing up in the Morrisania/Hunts Point area of the South Bronx in the 1970s and 80s was not easy. The Bronx was burning, and Anita saw it all: the drug use, the abandoned buildings, and most tragically, the violence. As a teenager, she lost two siblings, an older sister and a younger brother, to the plague of gun violence. In 1998, shortly after graduating from St. John’s University, she began working for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). As a Public Health Advisor she worked with tuberculosis patients to make sure they were following important protocols, in addition to providing training for healthcare workers and community organizations. The next stage of her career focused on asthma prevention and mitigation in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx, both of which have some of the highest asthma rates in the country. After later serving as Executive Director for the Bronx Neighborhood Health Action Center, Anita was appointed DOHMH’s Assistant Commissioner of Health for the Bronx. The greatest public health challenge she’s faced has been COVID-19, and its catastrophic impact on the Bronx—home to many essential and frontline workers—cannot be overstated. In the earliest days of the pandemic, Anita led one of the first outdoor rapid testing operations in the city, and then helped launch mobile pop-up testing sites across the Bronx. In January 2021, she was selected to lead one of the city’s first 24/7 mass vaccination sites in Manhattan. “Anita’s deep, deep love and commitment for her community is always apparent,” said Emiko Otsubo, Chief Operating Officer for DOHMH. “She is really the whole package when it comes to being a public health advocate.”