In March 2021, Barbie Robinson was appointed Executive Director for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) – the nationally accredited county public health agency for the nation’s third-largest county serving a population of approximately five million people.
She leads the Department to serve as the Community Health Strategist for leading and enabling cross-sector partnerships that connect safety net services in an integrated way to ensure interventions, services, and programs address the social determinants of health holistically to reduce health disparities. As the Executive Director, she established new public health programs to reduce community violence and established the County’s ACCESS Harris County Initiative designed to deliver holistic care to the County’s most vulnerable populations in need of services across the safety net continuum. She also established the department’s first Maternal and Child Health Program in response to the maternal and infant mortality crisis in Harris County.
Under her dedicated leadership, the Department will focus on four key strategic priorities: health equity, health protection, health promotion, and operational excellence over the next five years. This strategic focus equips HCPH with the tools necessary to protect health, prevent disease and injury, and promote well-being for everyone in Harris County by advancing equity, building partnerships, and establishing culturally responsive systems. These priorities aim to reflect a Harris County in which all people can achieve their full potential for health and well-being.
Executive Director, Robinson has served as a change agent with the goal of meeting the substantial needs of the greater community. She successfully restructured HCPH’s various operations for more effective and efficient administration of existing and new public health programming.
Prior to her appointment, she served as Director of Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS) for five years while concurrently serving as the Interim Executive Director of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission for the last 16 months of her tenure with the county. Robinson’s leadership was instrumental in forming Sonoma County’s ACCESS Initiative, a nationally and internationally awarded integrated care coordination model that helps underserved and vulnerable individuals achieve self-sufficiency and well-being. This model is being replicated across the Country.
She successfully led several key initiatives for the County including the passage of a one-quarter cent sales tax measure on the November 2020 ballot to raise approximately $25 million annually for ten years for a total of $250 million revenue for behavioral health and homeless services. Spearheaded the development of one of only 27 16-bed Psychiatric Health Facilities in the State of California while obtaining sponsorship and financial investments from the County’s 3 largest hospital systems. Led a public-private stakeholder process to overall the County’s Emergency Medical Services ordinance and services. Successfully negotiated the acquisition of two hotels for permanent supportive housing for up to 100+ homeless individuals as part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Project Homekey Initiative. As a result of her strong administration skills, she successfully led efforts to respond to some of the County’s largest emergency and public health crises.
Robinson has over 27 years of experience in health care administration, policy, and research. Before Sonoma County, she worked at the Federal level at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for 15 years overseeing the administration of Federal healthcare programs, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Medicare Fee-for-Service program, and the Affordable Care Act. She held numerous leadership positions at CMS, including Associate Regional Administrator (ARA) of the San Francisco and Atlanta Regional Offices Division of Financial Management and Fee-for-Service Operations; her leadership earned her the Administrator’s Achievement Award in 2014.
Robinson has been recognized for leading collaborative efforts to address health disparities, health improvement, and health equity throughout her career. She currently sits on several national and regional governance bodies including the Co-Chair Representative on the Steering Committee of The Way Home Continuum of Care, the lead agency to prevent and end homelessness in the Greater Houston Area. Robinson currently serves as the Sponsor of the Health Portfolio American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) with investments of more than $240 million.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts with a triple major (Political Science, Spanish, and International Sociology) from Middlebury College, her Master of Public Policy, Health and Social Policy from Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy, and her Juris Doctor from the George Washington University Law School. She was admitted to the California Bar in 2000.