Joseph Califano, Jr.

  • Former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare
  • Chairman of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
  • Author

Joseph Califano Jr., a former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, founded Columbia University’s Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse and has spent much of his life crusading for a safer, healthier America.


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Joseph A. Califano, Jr., is Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. He is an expert in health care delivery and cost-containment, and has lectured extensively about America's health care system. He is an Adjunct Professor of public health at Columbia University's Medical School and School of Public Health, and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Califano has extensive experience in both government and private law practice. He was senior partner of the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Dewey Ballantine from 1983 to 1992. From 1977 to 1979, Mr. Califano served as U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Carter. As Secretary, Mr. Califano mounted major health promotion and disease prevention programs, including childhood immunization, the first national anti-smoking campaign, an alcoholism initiative, and issuance of Healthy People, the Surgeon General's Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, which for the first time set health goals for the American people. He served as President Lyndon B. Johnson's Special Assistant for Domestic Affairs from 1965 to 1969, and he served in the Kennedy administration as General Counsel of the Department of the Army, and Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense.

In 2010, he received the Gustav O. Lienhard Award, the Institute's highest honor, for his contributions to improving public health, his leadership in catalyzing federal action to curb smoking, and his broader efforts to reduce the toll of addiction and substance abuse.

Mr. Califano is the author of thirteen books. He has written articles for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Readers Digest, New Republic, Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine, America, The Washington Monthly, and others.

He received his BA from The College of the Holy Cross and his LL.B., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. Mr. Califano is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States and is a member of the Bars of the District of Columbia and the State of New York.

Mr. Califano is a director of CBS Corporation.  He is a Trustee of New York Presbyterian Hospital, The Century Foundation, The Urban Institute, The LBJ Foundation and the National Health Museum; Trustee Emeritus of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and a member of the Board of Directors of the The American Ditchley Foundation. He is also a member of the National Council of the American Foundation for AIDS Research and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Califano has received honorary degrees from numerous colleges and universities, including the Universities of Notre Dame, Michigan, Howard and Seton Hall, State University of New York, The College of the Holy Cross, College of New Rochelle, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine of The City University of New York, City College of New York, Davis and Elkins College, and Union College.

He resides in Westport, Connecticut with his wife, the former Hilary Paley Byers. They have five children and nine grandchildren.