2023 Paul Revere Award
Kevin Cranston is the Assistant Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Director of the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences. Kevin’s career in public health began in 1987 as an Adolescent AIDS Prevention Specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he established a street youth outreach program, and continued as the HIV/AIDS Program Director at the then Massachusetts Department of Education. In 1995 he joined the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as the Assistant Director of AIDS Prevention and Education in the HIV/AIDS Bureau, quickly becoming Director of the program (1996-2001) before expanding his scope as Deputy Director (2001-2003) and then Director (2003-2009) of the entire Bureau.
Throughout his career, Kevin’s work has been shaped by a lifelong dedication to the lives and welfare of young people and has been deeply rooted in the LGBTQ community. His work at MA DOE was instrumental in establishing the Safe Schools for LGBTQ Youth program and in establishing the first data collection on gay and lesbian youth through the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which pioneered methods of data collection on sexual orientation that is essential to current understanding of health inequities for LGBTQ communities. Moving to MDPH, Kevin assured that resources were prioritized for youth at risk of HIV/AIDS and supported the then Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth (now the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, still the only commission of its kind in the United States). He advocated for sexual orientation questions on the adult Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey and then worked to test and implement questions on gender identity which have provided critical information on health inequities experienced by the trans community.
In 2009, Kevin was appointed to lead the new Bureau of Infectious Disease, which combined the HIV/AIDS Bureau with the Bureau of Communicable Disease. His work to align the critical prevention, surveillance, and response programs targeting these and other infectious diseases into one unified bureau drew upon all of his strategic planning, policy, programmatic, and leadership skills. In 2016, Kevin was appointed to Assistant Commissioner and oversaw another merger with the creation of the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences. In this role Kevin has provided leadership in response to issues ranging from HIV to H1N1 to EEE to Ebola to COVID-19 to Mpox.
In addition, Kevin has laid a critical foundation for the future of public health by advocating for renovation of the State Public Health Laboratory and overseeing the early phases of implementation, assuring quality data collection and reporting, working with the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists/MOSES to create a career ladder for epidemiology staff within state government, and serving as both a role model and mentor for people within MDPH.
Kevin’s work has had state, national and international impact. He serves on the Massachusetts Special Legislative Commission on LGBT Aging and on the Executive Committee of the Harvard Center for AIDS Research. He is the past Chair of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors and of the National Coalition for LGBT Health and is a former member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Kevin has also served as a technical advisor to national, state, and provincial AIDS control programs in Nigeria, Brazil, and South Africa.
Kevin Cranston holds an M.Div. degree from Harvard Divinity School and a B.A. in Theology from Boston College, fields of study that no doubt have guided his long career to create greater health equity and justice.
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