College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Dr. Gema G. Hernandez is the first Hispanic female to serve in the capacity of Secretary of any department in the State of Florida. During her long-standing career, she has also served as Director of Community Care for the Elders, the Lead agency for older adults in Dade County, and the Director of the Women Alcohol and Rehabilitation Center for Miami-Metro Dade County. In this capacity, she was responsible for administering and supervising an inpatient and outpatient treatment centers and a halfway home.
Dr. Hernandez worked at the university level began with her position as Coordinator for International Affairs for FIU. She began her teaching career as an Associate Professor and retired with the rank of Full Professor from NSU School of Public Administration. She has published and trained extensively on topics ranging from Cultural Competence, Public policy, Caregiving issues, Death and Dying and programs and services for elders.
During her tenure as Secretary, Dr. Hernandez was instrumental in obtaining the passage of the Family Caregiver Leave Act that protect working caregivers from losing their jobs and allowing them to take time to care for their loved ones. She instituted the first Managed Long-Term Care in the State, expanded the Nursing Home Diversion Programs, established the third national Consumer Directed Care Program and created the first Elder Abuse Awareness Campaign to educate culturally distinct elders and caregivers. Her several Congressional testimonies covered those issues.
She is the recipient of multiple national and state awards including America's Best Innovation Award from the Council of State Government for her copyrighted program titled: Communities for Life: Elder Ready, Children Friendly and Family-Focused also known as Communities for Life.
Her career at Walden began in 2009 as a contributing faculty in the School of Public Administration.