Principal and Director of Life Sciences
Dr. Suzet M. McKinney is a public health expert, medical executive, thought leader, strategic thinker and nationally recognized expert in emergency preparedness and response.
As Principal and Director of Life Sciences for Sterling Bay, Dr. McKinney oversees relationships with the scientific, academic, corporate, tech, and governmental sectors involved in the life sciences ecosystem. She also leads the strategy to expand Sterling Bay’s footprint in life sciences nationwide. She previously served as CEO and Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District, where she managed a 24/7/365 environment that included 560 acres of medical research facilities, labs, a biotech business incubator, universities, raw land development areas, four hospitals and more than 40 healthcare-related facilities. Within two years of leadership, Dr. McKinney accomplished a financial turnaround of the IMD, successfully retiring more than $40 million in debt.
In 2020, Dr. McKinney was appointed by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker as Operations Lead for the State of Illinois’ Alternate Care Facilities, a network of alternate medical locations designed to decompress the hospital system during the COVID-19 pandemic. She worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and multiple construction, architecture and project management teams to prepare five facilities to open for overflow patient care.
Dr. McKinney is also an experienced on-camera expert who has frequently discussed healthcare disparities and racial inequities amplified by the pandemic, climate-related emergencies, biological and chemical threats and natural disasters. She’s been feautured on CNN, ABC, NBC Nightly News, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Crain’s Chicago Busineses and The Chicago Tribune.
Prior to leading the IMD, Dr. McKinney served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response at the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), where she oversaw the emergency preparedness efforts for the Department and coordinated those efforts within the larger spectrum of the City of Chicago’s Public Safety activities, in addition to overseeing the Department’s Division of Women and Children’s Health. She also provided support to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, lending subject matter expertise in biological terrorism preparedness to the country of Poland.
Previously, she served as the Sr. Advisor for Public Health and Preparedness at the Tauri Group, where she provided strategic and analytical consulting services to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS), BioWatch Program. Her work at DHS included providing creative, responsive and operationally based problem-solving for public health, emergency management and homeland security issues, specifically chemical and biological early detection systems and the implementation of those systems at the state and local levels.
Dr. McKinney serves on numerous boards and advisory committees. Her current board memberships include the Board of Directors for Lurie Children’s Hospital, Susan G. Komen Chicago, Thresholds, and the Fifth Third Bank Advisory Board. Dr. McKinney is Co-Chair of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), Health and Medicine Division’s Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Disasters and Emergencies and is a member of the NASEM Board on Health Sciences Policy. She also serves on the Science and Security Board for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and is Chairperson of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Center for Public Health Preparedness and Response. She has led multiple emergency response efforts, including Chicago’s 2014-2015 Ebola response; the operational response to the 2009 H1N1 outbreak; as well as CDPH’s participation in the 2012 NATO Summit response and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake response. She is currently serving the State of IL as Operations Lead for the COVID-19 Alternate Care Facilities. She is a member of The Chicago Network and the Economic Club of Chicago.
In academia, Dr. McKinney serves as an Instructor in the Division of Translational Policy and Leadership Development at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Health Policy Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. Additionally, she serves as a mentor for the Biomedical Sciences Careers Project, also at Harvard University. She is the co-author of the text: Public Health Emergency Preparedness: Practical Solutions for the Real World (2018) and was named one of Chicago’s 50 Most Powerful Women (2020), and one of Chicago’s Notable Women in Healthcare (2018 & 2019).
Dr. McKinney holds her Doctorate degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, with a focus on preparedness planning, leadership and workforce development. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) where she was also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow. She received her Master of Public Health degree (Health Care Administration) and certificates in Managed Care and Health Care Administration from Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.
Select Media Clips and Speaking Engagements:
- CNN: Coronavirus Pandemic Interview 1
- CNN: Coronavirus Pandemic Interview 2
- CNN: Coronavirus Pandemic Interview 3
- CNN with Don Lemon: Coronavirus Interview 4
- Healthcare Real Estate Will Change in the Pandemic (And That’s a Good Thing), Forbes, December 1, 2020
- “Back to Work? Whether Now or Later Preparation is Imperative” Forbes, September 11, 2020
- “COVID-19’s Lasting Effects on Healthcare”, Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2020
- “Social Determinants of Health: An Interview with Dr. Suzet McKinney,” Outcome Health, July 22, 2020
- “Leading Through Crisis with Imperfect Data,” The Economic Club of Chicago, April 17, 2020
- “Life Sciences and Economic Development,” City Club of Chicago Address, October 10, 2019