In March 2022, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced the promotion of Palak Raval-Nelson, PhD and Master in Public Health to the position of Deputy Health Commissioner.
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Palak Raval-Nelson, PhD, MPH as our second Deputy Health Commissioner!
— Philadelphia Public Health (@PHLPublicHealth) March 25, 2022
This newly created position oversees the divisions of Environmental Health Services, Air Management Services, the AIDS Activities Coordinating Office, and the Public Health Lab.
“As an immigrant who came to the United States not knowing how to speak English, I am so humbled to have been promoted to this position,” said new Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Palak Raval-Nelson. “Being able to work my way up through six different positions in the Health Department has given me the ability to understand how decisions made at the executive level can affect not only our staff, but also the communities in which they work and live.”
A profile of Dr. Raval Nelson
Dr. Palak Raval-Nelson was born in Gujarat, India and came to the United States in 1979. She had her B.S. in Biology from Temple University, her Master in Public Health from MCP Hahnemann University (graduating with the distinguished Hiega Society Award), and her Ph.D. in environmental health and policy from Drexel University. She is a member of the Delta Omega National Public Health Honor Society.
Dr. Raval-Nelson was recognized in 2006 by the Society of Women Environmental Professionals as an outstanding woman environmental professional for the Delaware Valley.
She has worked for the Health Department since 1996, when she began work as a Sanitarian, and was subsequently promoted to: Sanitarian Specialist, Sanitarian Supervisor, Environmental Health Program Manager, Environmental Health Program Administrator, and Environmental Health Services Director.
During her time as Director of Environmental Health Services Dr. Raval-Nelson oversaw an expansion of the division, going from 60 positions and three program areas to 120 positions and five program areas.
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In 2008, she had her first book published: Breast Cancer Politics: An Evaluation of the Current Funding Policies. She has also graduated from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Environmental Public Health Leadership Institute.Dr. Raval-Nelson serves as adjunct faculty at Drexel University’s School of Public Health and Temple University.
She teaches courses on environmental and occupational health, and vulnerable populations and the environment. She has presented many papers at NEHA, PPHA and APHA and has had several publications in the National Journal of Environmental Health.
City of Philadelphia Health Commisioner, Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, is pleased to have someone with the expertise of Dr. Raval Nelson as a Deputy Health Commissioner.
“I’m grateful to have someone with her expertise in environmental health and deep knowledge of the public health department and of Philadelphia as Deputy Health Commissioner, and it is particularly satisfying to appoint a longtime staff member who started with the department as a sanitarian to this role,” said Bettigole.
The Health Commisioner expects Raval-Nelson’s work brings environmental justice and equity. “Her commitment to health equity and public health has been an asset in Environmental Health Services, and I am excited to see her work towards environmental justice and equity.”
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