South African is First Openly Gay Man to be Appointed as Director of D.C. Department of Health

By Melanie Nathan, July 18, 2012.

South African doctor’s rock – I happen to be exuberant about them because my baby brother is an accomplished pulmonary specialist in the D.C. area. But now I have even more reason to tout my pride, having a lot in common with a newly appointed  top doc.

The newly appointed interim director of the D.C. Department of Health,  Dr Saul Levin, is also an ex-pat South African, also a graduate from WITS, my alma mater, a member of  my tribe and as it happens he is gay too.

Mayor Vincent Gray on Tuesday announced he had appointed Dr. Saul Levin, a psychiatrist and senior deputy director at the D.C. Department of Health, as interim director of the D.C. Department of Health, making him the first known out gay person to serve as head of a city department of that size.

He is decently younger than I am  having received his medical degree in 1992 from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.  He completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of California’s Davis Medical Center and received a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 1994.

Gray announced that Levin would fill in for DOH Director Dr. Mohammad Akhter, who the mayor said is taking an unpaid leave of absence to become a member of the executive board of the city’s newly created Health Benefit Exchange Authority.

The Washington Blade reports that Levin could not be immediately reached for comment. The statement released by the mayor’s office announcing his appointment as interim director of the DOH makes no mention of his sexual orientation.

However, gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) told the Blade he has known Levin for more than 20 years and that Levin has been involved in LGBT-related AIDS work in various positions, including a stint as an official at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Melanie Nathan
nathan@privatecourts.com
twitter @melanienathan1

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One Comment on “South African is First Openly Gay Man to be Appointed as Director of D.C. Department of Health”

  1. Huge July 22, 2012 at 10:07 AM #

    We South Africans don’t know our potential! ; – >

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