Working to ensure equity and equal investment throughout the Sacramento region and across the state has earned a local leader a prestigious national honor.

The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) has selected Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, for inclusion in its 2021 class of academy fellows. The lifetime honor recognizes Hewitt’s years of public administration service and expertise.

“I am deeply grateful to receive this recognition, which is among the highest honors those working in public administration can hope to achieve,” Hewitt said.

Leading an organization that includes both a philanthropic foundation and health equity nonprofit, Hewitt is known for his innovative approaches to community investment and partnership on behalf of historically marginalized communities. Under Hewitt’s leadership, Sierra Health Foundation and The Center have launched numerous programs in pursuit of health, racial equity and justice, including California Funders for Boys and Men of Color, Positive Youth Justice Initiative, Black Child Legacy Campaign and San Joaquin Valley Health Fund.

“One reason Chet Hewitt is so effective, and of such value to the National Academy, is that he is deeply experienced in the operations, management, and leadership of local human services programs,” said Dr. John Kirlin, distinguished professor of public policy at McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. “His own early experiences with poverty in New York inform and motivate his commitment to ensuring public programs are as effective as is possible.”

Prior to joining Sierra Health Foundation in 2007, Hewitt served as director of Alameda County’s Social Services Agency, associate director for the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, and director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco. 

He achieved national recognition for transforming Alameda County’s failing child welfare system into a national model and using technology to improve the management and accessibility of human service programs. Today, he and his team at Sierra Health Foundation and The Center are spearheading new models for public-private partnership to address the COVID-19 pandemic in California.

“One of Chet’s greatest achievements throughout his career is his consistent drive to improve the lives of populations and individuals most disproportionately impacted by poor health outcomes due to social, economic, and environmental conditions and policies,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “He has demonstrated visionary leadership with significant societal, institutional and community impact.”

“Chet is known for taking on the most pressing and complex issues facing communities at a local, regional, and state level,” said Dr. Richard Callahan, PhD, professor and co-director of the University of San Francisco (USF) Master of Public Health Program in Sacramento and director of the Health Services Administration concentration in USF’s School of Management. “Through his collaborative leadership style, innovative approach to program design and management, and willingness to take thoughtful risk, Chet has increased Sierra Health Foundation’s influence, reach and impact throughout California.”

Chartered by Congress to provide nonpartisan expert advice, NAPA is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization established in 1967. It assists government leaders in building more effective, efficient, accountable and transparent organizations. With the goal of putting the government in a better position to “be of service to all,” NAPA also established its 12 “Grand Challenges.” The list outlines pressing issues that public administrators are working to resolve.  

Hewitt will hold the title of NAPA fellow for life. Other inductees include former U.S. cabinet officers, members of Congress, governors, mayors and state legislators, as well as prominent scholars, business executives and public administrators.

“Our distinguished fellows are nationally recognized for their expertise in the field of public administration and Mr. Hewitt is no exception,” said Academy President and CEO Terry Gerton.

“As government at every level continues to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to addressing public concerns regarding equity, the environment, the nation’s fiscal health and others, we welcome his experience and perspective as we work collaboratively to find intergovernmental solutions to the Grand Challenges in Public Administration,” Gerton added.

Induction of the new fellows will occur during NAPA’s fall meeting, taking place virtually and in person Nov. 3-9.