Dr. Antonia Coello Novello was born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a B.S. degree in 1965 and an M.D. degree in 1970. She completed her subspecialty training in pediatric nephrology at University of Michigan and Georgetown University. Dr. Novello received a masters in Public Health from the John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1982 and a Doctor of Public Health in May 2000. She holds countless awards. including the Legion of Merit, The James Smithson Bicentennial Medal, and the National Governor's Association Distinguished Service to State Government Award, as well as a membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Society and Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to name a few, and over 53 honoris causa. In 2011, Dr. Novello received the Don Quijote Lifetime Achievement Award.
On March 9, 1990, Dr. Antonia Novello was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to serve as the 14th Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service. Her appointment marked two firsts: Dr. Novello became the first woman and the first Hispanic ever to hold this position. As Surgeon General, Dr. Novello advised the public on health matters such as smoking, AIDS, diet and nutrition, environmental health hazards and the importance of immunization and disease prevention.
On June 3, 1999, Governor George E. Pataki nominated Dr. Novello to be the 13th New York State Health Commissioner; one of the leading health agencies in the nation with a $49 Billion budget - one-third of the whole NY state budget. Most recently, Dr. Novello served as the Executive Director of Public Health Policy at Florida Hospital. She currently serves as a liaison between the government of Dominican Republic and its Attorney General on raising the awareness of domestic violence and spearheading efforts for national legislation.