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Women's History Month 2024

NVC celebrates Women's History Month

March 1, 2024


March is Women’s History Month, a month when we recognize and celebrate the contributions of women to our society, our culture, our families, and our well-being. The 2024 theme for Women’s History Month is “Women who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” According to the National Women’s History Alliance,

“The theme recognizes women throughout the country who understand that, for a positive future, we need to eliminate bias and discrimination entirely from our lives and institutions.”

“Women from every background have long realized that an uneven playing field will never bring equality or justice. Many feel the critical need to speak up and work harder for fairness in our institutions and social interactions.”

“During 2024, we recognize the example of women who are committed to embracing everyone and excluding no one in our common quest for freedom and opportunity. They know that people change with the help of families, teachers and friends, and that young people in particular need to learn the value of hearing from different voices with different points of view as they grow up.”

A woman who has been leading initiatives for health equity is Admiral Rachel L. Levine, M.D. Below are excerpts from The National Women’s History Museum biography of Admiral Rachel Levine:

“Rachel Levine was born on October 28, 1957 to parents Melvin and Lillian Levine. She was assigned male at birth. Levine and her older sister, Bonnie, grew up in Wakefield, Massachusetts (in the greater Boston area). Her parents were both attorneys; her mother was the only woman to graduate from Boston University Law School in 1946. Raised in a Jewish household, she celebrated her bar mitzvah and attended synagogue with her family. Levine went to the all-boys prep school Belmont Hill, where she played football and hockey and participated in glee club and drama.”

“Levine graduated from Harvard College in 1979 and enrolled at Tulane University School of Medicine. There she discovered a passion for pediatrics, specifically adolescent medicine, as she found teenagers both challenging and stimulating. While at Tulane, she married fellow medical student Martha Peaslee-Levine, with whom she later had a son and daughter.”

“In 1993, Levine accepted a job on the faculty at the Penn State College of Medicine and moved to Central Pennsylvania with her family. She was the Director of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Poly-Clinic Medical Center. In 1996, she moved to the main Penn State campus in Hershey, where she served as the Director of Pediatric Ambulatory Services and the Director of Adolescent Medicine. Levine remained at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center until 2015, working in several different capacities and overseeing new initiatives like the adolescent and young adult eating disorder program.”

“In her 40s, Levine found it more and more difficult to compartmentalize the thoughts about her gender identity, the way she had done since childhood. She explored her feelings in therapy and began experimenting with her gender expression, such as growing out her hair. By 2011, she had fully transitioned. At the time, Penn State Hershey Medical Center had a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation, but not gender identity and expression. Levine worked with the administration to craft the “Levine Policy” that included gender identity and expression as protected categories. Levine, previously the faculty advisor for the LGBTQ student group, became the diversity office’s liaison for LGBTQ affairs and helped the medical center establish itself as a more welcoming environment for members of the LGBTQ community.”

“During this time, Levine also became involved with political advocacy. She joined the board of Equality Pennsylvania, a state-wide LGBTQ rights group, as well as her regional Stonewall Democrats group (an LGBT caucus). When Democratic candidate Tom Wolf won the election for governor of Pennsylvania in 2014, Levine was asked to serve as co-chair for his Transition Committee for Health. Just before his inauguration in January 2015, Governor-elect Wolf appointed Levine Physician General of Pennsylvania and she was unanimously confirmed by the Pennsylvania state senate.“

“As Physician General and then Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, which she was named in March 2018, Levine worked to provide greater access to healthcare for the LGBTQ community. She also sought to improve maternal health and childhood immunization rates. Her main focus, though, was addressing the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania. Levine issued an order that let Pennsylvanians buy the anti-overdose drug, Naloxone, without a prescription and allowed law enforcement to carry it. These measures prevented a great number of overdose deaths.”

“President Joseph R. Biden nominated Levine to serve as the 17th Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She was confirmed by the Senate in March 2021 by a vote of 58-42, making her the first openly transgender official to be confirmed by the Senate as well as the highest-ranking openly transgender official in U.S. history.”

“Her clinical and public health work has helped people dealing with a range of medical issues, including eating disorders, the opioid crisis, and COVID-19.”

Dr. Levine has also been involved in initiatives that address the public health impacts of climate change and their disproportionate impacts on vulnerable, marginalized communities. To learn more about her work in this arena, please view her lecture at her alma mater, Tulane University:

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I encourage you to learn about women, such as Admiral Rachel Levine, who have been trailblazers, breaking barriers for women, and engaged in advocacy for equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Best wishes,


Dr. Patricia van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy

Senior Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers (Why is this here?)


National Women’s History Alliance


National Women’s History Museum: Rachel Levine