New Health Sciences Leader Named

UNM names Dr. Douglas Ziedonis Executive Vice President of UNM Health Sciences and Chief Executive Officer of the UNM Health System


University of New Mexico President Garnett S. Stokes has appointed Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President (EVP) of UNM Health Sciences and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the UNM Health System. The selection culminates a 10-month national search to identify the next executive leader for the UNM Health Sciences Center which includes the education, research, clinical, and community activities of UNM Health Sciences and the UNM Health System. 

Dr. Ziedonis follows in the legacy of Dr. Paul Roth who retired this summer as the previous executive leader of UNM Health Sciences and the UNM Health System. Dr. Ziedonis’ appointment begins on December 1, 2020.

“Dr. Ziedonis’ appointment reflects our institutional dedication to finding a leader who will deliver on UNM's commitment to offering excellence across all aspects of education, research and clinical care, and the HSC’s mission to improve health outcomes for all New Mexicans,” said Stokes. “He comes to UNM with a keen appreciation for the complexities of running the state’s only academic medical center, including the current stressors derived from the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.”

douglas-ziedonis.jpg“He has a breadth of experience and leadership roles at academic institutions as varied as the University of California San Diego, UCLA, UMass, Yale University, and Rutgers, and extensive work with diverse populations, including Indigenous communities. Additionally, his own medical and public health background and accomplishments have targeted addressing health disparities – including issues such as homelessness, mental illness, and addiction – and being a champion for diversity.”

UNM Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway, who led the search committee said, “I’m very excited to be working with my new colleague in Dr. Doug Ziedonis. During the search process Doug really stood out for both his deep experience and expertise, and his ability to empathetically hear multiple voices and perspectives.” He went on to say, “I remember distinctly during his finalist interview talking to him on day one, and then again at the end of day two, and realizing that through listening during the interview process he really learned a lot about the distinctive and special nature of UNM and the Health Sciences Center, and its unique role in the state. I look forward to working in partnership with Doug.”

Dr. Ziedonis is excited about his appointment and the opportunities the UNM HSC offers in providing high-quality healthcare in a majority-minority state.

“I look forward to this leadership role at The University of New Mexico and getting to know the state of New Mexico and how to better serve its people. This is an exciting time to join an amazing group of faculty, staff, and students at Health Sciences and the Health System,” said Dr. Ziedonis. "I’ve enjoyed getting to know President Stokes and everyone at the Health Sciences Center and across the campus. I look forward to working with President Stokes and further developing the spirit of one university.

“This opportunity is such a great fit with my experiences, interests, and passions to improve public health and clinical health care through innovation, discovery, compassion, education, and support for faculty, staff, and students. I deeply value serving at a public university that has a strong commitment to the state. It’s an exciting time to come to The University of New Mexico and become a Lobo.”

Dr. Ziedonis currently serves as Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences (AVC) at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), with broad senior leadership responsibilities in all mission areas, including strategic planning coordination, health system matters, and leadership, coordination and evaluation to all Health Science Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Public Health. During the past 13 years at UCSD and UMass, his senior leadership roles included being Chief Academic Officer, President of UMass Memorial Behavioral Health Services, Department Chair, and Hospital Board of Trustee. A passion for mentoring, teamwork and supporting diversity motivated Dr. Ziedonis to pursue senior leadership roles.

He shared that none of the accomplishments discussed here were possible without teams of outstanding faculty leaders, students, staff, and community leaders. “Supporting individuals and teams will poise UNM to address current and future challenges and opportunities together in better serving the citizens of New Mexico, creating the workforce of the future, and in making significant impacts through discovery and innovation in all mission areas,” he said.

His prior work with state, county, federal, Veterans Affairs, community, and business leaders led to improvement in services to state’s citizens and in better understanding and addressing critical public health and health concerns. As a leader, he has demonstrated visionary and strategic skills and is operations-oriented depending on the role and needs of an organization including operational strengths in finance, academics, philanthropy, facilities, and human resources. Dr. Ziedonis is also recognized nationally and internationally for his academic and policy work. He is a tenured full Professor in Psychiatry at UCSD who has also served as a faculty at Yale, Rutgers, and UMass in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and Biomedical Science.

Dr. Ziedonis’ experience working in state public-university systems is equally impressive, having worked at UCLA, UCSD, Penn State, Rutgers, and UMass with a commitment to serving the state’s citizens, serving vulnerable and diverse populations, prioritizing community engagement, and working with state leaders, while balancing and blending the many missions of the University and health care system. His own values and previous work experiences resonate well with UNM’s values and commitment to being an outstanding public research university that emphasizes community engagement, inclusive excellence, and multicultural diversity.

His core values are to enhance equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). He has a demonstrated record of EDI accomplishments, including leading many EDI initiatives in all mission areas, pipeline programs, and achieving a more diverse workforce, student body, and leadership teams. At UCSD, he initiated the 1st Health Sciences EDI Summits to align with the UCSD campus leaders to enhance strategic planning, awareness, institutional accountability, a welcoming climate, and access and success. Teams now share best practices, have enhanced support for LatinX/Hispanics, LGBTQ, and American Indians, as well as better addressing institutional and systemic barriers and expanding anti-racism initiatives.

Dr. Ziedonis is experienced at and committed to UNM’s “One University Culture” values of enhancing cross-campus partnerships and increasing collaboration across member hospitals in the UNM health care system, including community partnerships and employee and student health and wellness. He looks forward to supporting and assuring that the Health Sciences Center is a dynamic partner in expanding inter-disciplinary collaborations and activities in all mission areas. As a first-generation Latvian American son of immigrants, he described great comfort and experience in bridge-building as well as inclusive excellence.

“President Stokes has created a really strong transformative leadership team with great cohesion, and I welcome the opportunity to be a part of her leadership team and commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and balance across all the missions,” said Dr. Ziedonis. “As a Research 1 University, we will need to have more inter-disciplinary partnerships and innovation hubs to be successful in receiving federal and other resources, including collaborations with other Universities in the state, the community and local businesses. I know that Health Sciences schools and colleges serve an important role in the future growth of the University.”

As part of his collaborative efforts, Dr. Ziedonis has led teams that created cross-campus Centers, Institutes, and Schools, and ways of connecting to enhance a culture of health and wellness, support inclusive excellence and expanded the concept of One Health. An example was the development of UCSD’s new School of Public Health initial proposal which required new cross-campus collaborations to create a shared vision of a 21st Century School of Public Health with 100s of diverse faculty, staff, and students from the areas of Health Sciences, Engineering, Business, Design, Social Sciences, Humanities & Arts, Climate Change, and others on and off-campus.

Another effort includes UCSD’s Healthy Campus Network, an initiative he sponsors and co-leads with more than 100 faculty, staff, and student leaders from across the campus where they helped create a culture of health that addresses health disparities through increased cross-campus communication, collaboration, new programs, and elevating everyone’s efforts. Establishing cross-campus partnerships was vital for UCSD’s “Return to Learn” and other quick responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, including developing new supports for those who are working on the front lines as well as those working or learning from home.

On the research front, Dr. Ziedonis has increased the research enterprise, mentoring, funding, and innovation at levels including the University, School, Institute, Center, Department, and Division levels, including basic & translational research. Dr. Ziedonis is an internationally recognized physician-scientist with a strong academic research career of his own, in which he has led teams and received over 118 grants with over 25 years of continuous National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other research funding, and 320+ publications and other scholarly works. His research has led to new discoveries, innovations, and policies related to addiction, mental illness, homelessness, obesity, disabilities, and health disparities. His experience will help provide excellence in research and career mentoring, a passion of his, especially leading successful career development and leadership programs and offices. 

As a clinical system leader in times of health care change to managed care and value-based care, including at UMass during Massachusetts’s early introduction of population-based health care that created Accountable Care Organizations, clinically integrated networks of group practices, working together across hospitals, and more outreach to homes and urgent care. He led a team that expanded its statewide network of many community-based services to focus on addressing health disparities through innovative health promotion, tele-consult, outreach, and integrated care services, including private, public sector, community, and for-profit partnerships. He has led and practiced in a wide range of clinical settings and has proven experience working with state, county, federal, and elected officials, including governors and legislative leaders and community-based organizations, in addressing critical health and public health issues including health disparities, homelessness, addictions, mental illness, healthy aging, disabilities, and childhood obesity. At UCSD, he serves on the UC San Diego Health’s Executive Governing Board which oversees a large health care system of three hospitals, an NCI Cancer Center, Trauma 1 Center, (with over $1.85 billion operating budget, and $476 million community benefit) by enhancing strategy, quality, safety, finances, compliance, and operations. 

In the educational area, Dr. Ziedonis has overseen all aspects of health sciences education and student matters, including developing Interprofessional Education (IPE) across Health Sciences and other University partners. He is thrilled to see the commitment to IPE at UNM by medicine, pharmacy, nursing, population health, and the other health care providers. He has extensive experience creating, evaluating, and leading innovative educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, post-doctoral, and continuing education levels which has been a rewarding experience for him. In 2013, he was selected as a Council of Dean's Fellow for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Engaging with students is very important to Dr. Ziedonis who continues to enjoy developing innovative educational programs, teaching, and mentoring students, as well as expanding online masters, certifications, and courses, especially timely with COVID.     

Along the way, Dr. Ziedonis has received international and national recognition for his academic research and leadership work, including invitations to speak around the globe. He has received numerous honors and awards from organizations and Universities, including the American Psychiatric Association, National Institutes of Health, America’s Top Psychiatrists, Best Doctors in America, the Women’s Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentoring to Women Faculty at UMass, the Clinical Science Mentoring Award at Rutgers, and even an award now named in his honor, the “Ziedonis Career Development Award” at UMass,

He is board-certified in Addiction Psychiatry, as well as General Psychiatry, by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). He is currently licensed in the states of California and Massachusetts.

A Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Ziedonis received his B.S. at Davidson College (1981), his M.D. at Pennsylvania State University Medical School (1985), and served his internship at UCLA and West Los Angeles VA Medical Center (1985-86), General Psychiatry Resident at UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute (1986-89), Chief Residency at the UCLA Department of Psychiatry & Brentwood VA (1988-89), Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship at UCLA and Brentwood VA, and his MPH at Yale University Department of Epidemiology and Public Health.

Dr. Ziedonis will be joined in New Mexico by his wife of 30 years, Patrice. They are blessed with a son living in New York City and a daughter living in Los Angeles. He is looking forward to not only the work role of serving as EVP and CEO, but in getting to live and know New Mexico. He shared his interests in playing and listening to music, photography, hiking, mindfulness, writing poetry, and fly-fishing. He is passionate in learning about new cultures, and their history, foods, arts, literature, music, and ways of being.  

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