Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the fifteenth president of American University (AU) and the first woman to serve in the role. Under her leadership, AU has more than doubled its externally-funded research grants, become the first university in the United States to achieve carbon-neutrality, and increased its endowment by more than 40 percent.
Burwell previously served as the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she oversaw the agency’s eleven operating divisions. In this position, she led the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the department’s responses to the Ebola and Zika outbreaks. Prior to that, she served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, where she worked with Congress to negotiate the two-year budget deal that ended the 2013 government shutdown.
Burwell was the president of the Walmart Foundation. She also was president and founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and the foundation’s first chief operating officer.
Burwell received undergraduate degrees from Harvard University and Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She serves on the boards of the American Council on Education, GuideWell, and Kimberly-Clark.
Burwell is a proud native of Hinton, West Virginia. She is based in Washington, DC.