Harold Hongju Koh is the dean of Yale Law School. An outspoken critic of the Bush administration's foreign and legal policies, he has been nominated for the job of State Department legal adviser in the Obama administration.
The Bush administration's policies on detention, interrogations, surveillance and other issues, he said, had imposed "unnecessary, self-inflicted wounds, which have gravely diminished our global standing and damaged our reputation for respecting the rule of law."
If confirmed at the State Department, Mr. Koh will have the opportunity to shape the administration's legal policies and reverse course on several Bush administration policies that he criticized, including American adherence to the Geneva Conventions and the Kyoto treaty.
Mr. Koh is married to Mary-Christy Fisher, a lawyer with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, and they have two children. Mr. Koh's father, Kwang Lim Koh, served as minister to the United States for the first democratically elected government in South Korea, until a military coup in 1961. Walt W. Rostow, then a deputy national security advisor, helped Mr. Koh's parents get settled in the United States by calling his brother, Eugene V. Rostow, then dean of the law school, for help. For three years, Mr. Koh's father and his mother, Hesung Chun Koh, taught a course on East Asian law and society at Yale. ''It was my first experience with American goodness,'' said Mr. Koh, who was 6 at the time.
Mr. Koh got his law degree from Harvard and was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. He started teaching at Yale in 1985 and was appointed dean of Yale Law School in 2003. He served as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor under President Bill Clinton from 1998 until 2001. Senate confirms Howard Koh as Assistant Secretary for Health
June 22, 2009 | Diana Manos, Senior Editor
WASHINGTON – Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Friday that the Senate has unanimously confirmed Howard Koh, MD, as the next Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS.
"Howard Koh is a world-renowned public health expert and physician who has devoted his career to promoting prevention and wellness policies and reducing health disparities," Sebelius said. "He will be an outstanding Assistant Secretary for Health, and we look forward to his expertise and advice when it comes to making America's families healthier and our health system stronger.
"Whether it's advancing health reform or working to implement the critical prevention programs in the Recovery Act, I am confident that Dr. Koh will work tirelessly on behalf of the American people," she added.
Koh was most recently the Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice and Director of the Division of Public Health Practice at the Harvard School of Public Health. He served as the principal investigator of multiple research grants related to community-based participatory research, cancer prevention, health disparities, tobacco control and emergency preparedness.
Koh also served as director of the HSPH Center for Public Health Preparedness and previously served as Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1997-2003), where he emphasized the power of prevention for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which included four public health hospitals and a staff of more than 3,000 professionals.
Koh graduated from Yale College and Yale University School of Medicine and completed his postgraduate training and chief residencies at Boston City Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. He has earned board certification in internal medicine, hematology, medical oncology and dermatology, as well as a Master of Public Health degree.
He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and previously served as chairman of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the CDC's Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response. He has published more than 200 articles of medical and public health literature and has received several awards and honors, including the Distinguished Service Award from the American Cancer Society.
Then-President Bill Clinton appointed Koh to the National Cancer Advisory Board in 2000. He served on that board until 2002.
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