Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the fifteenth president of American University. She is the first woman to hold the position. Burwell served as the secretary of health and human services from 2014 until the conclusion of President Barack Obama’s second term. Before that, she was the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Her prior positions in government include deputy director of OMB, deputy chief of staff to the president, chief of staff to the secretary of the treasury, and special assistant to the director of the National Economic Council.
Burwell also served as president of the Walmart Foundation and ran its Women’s Economic Empowerment efforts. Earlier, she spent eleven years at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, including as the chief operating officer and president of global development.
Burwell earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Burwell is also the Co-Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force on Preparing for the Next Pandemic.