Carol Liu felt called to care for others from a very young age. "That's just part of how I see the world," she said.
After sixteen years as a teacher and administrator in Richmond schools, Liu moved to Southern California and transitioned into politics through community volunteering, serving on a local city council, and eventually being elected to state office as a member of the California Assembly. After three terms—during which she authored successful legislation to promote career and technical education, protect public safety, prevent domestic violence, improve groundwater quality, and deter gang activity—she became the first Asian woman elected to the California State Senate in 2008.
Liu has continued her efforts to support the less fortunate during the challenging economic climate of the past four years by fighting for improved access to higher education and technical and career programs and championing services for the elderly, low-income, and disabled. In 2012, she and her brother, Barry, established the Jean Liu Memorial Leadership Award scholarship in honor of their mother. Recently re-elected, Liu retains her childhood passion for helping those in need: "I don't think I've changed much," she joked.
One of Michael McGinnis's first international opportunities in what would become his life's work as a physician and public servant arrived in 1974, when he set out on an assignment with the World Health Organization to help eradicate smallpox. "I saw the last days of smallpox in India," he recalled.
Inspired by this experience, McGinnis dedicated his career to public health, serving as the Assistant Surgeon General, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, and founding Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services between 1977 and 1995. He contributed to national and international health policy in the Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations.
Among his achievements, he created the nationwide Healthy People program in 1979, which established goals and metrics for health and is still active today. In 1993, he co-authored a landmark study describing the most common causes of death in the United States. His findings contributed to a paradigm shift in public health policy by quantifying the role that lifestyle can play in mortality. He now serves as the executive director of the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Values and Science-Driven Health Care.