Dr. Danielle Laraque-Arena

1956-Present

Dr. Danielle Laraque-Arena

Photo Credit: SUNY Upstate Medical University

Dr. Danielle Laraque-Arena, a nationally renowned pediatrician and researcher who emigrated from Haiti, is the president of SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, the largest employer in Central New York. Laraque-Arena, who is the first woman to hold that position, credits witnessing poverty in her home country and her family’s experience as political exiles with shaping a career focused on improving health care in underserved areas.

Laraque-Arena was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She told the Post- Standard her family was educated, with “no property, no money, no businesses.” Her father, a poet, was an outspoken critic of the dictatorship of François Duvalier, and, in 1961, seven-year-old Laraque- Arena and her family moved to New York after the regime in Haiti began targeting dissidents.

Settling in Queens, Laraque-Arena’s mother worked as a clerk at the United Nations and her father worked as a parking attendant while attending school at night. Her father’s eventual position at Fordham Preparatory School allowed Laraque-Arena and her brother to attend Fordham University for free.

Laraque-Arena, who is fluent in English, French, Creole, and Italian, earned her medical degree at UCLA in 1981, where she had received a scholarship. Before returning to New York in 1986, Laraque-Arena treated the health impacts of poverty at an inner-city hospital in Los Angeles and studied the effects of lead poisoning in Philadelphia. Until her 2015 appointment to SUNY Upstate, she chaired the pediatrics department at Maimonides Medical Center and served as vice president of Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital of Brooklyn.

As president of Upstate Medical, Laraque-Arena oversees four medical colleges, a research institution and the Upstate University Hospital, with more than 9,000 employees and 1,500 students.


Dr. Laraque-Arena at her 2016 inauguration as president of SUNY Upstate Medical University with SUNY Chairman of the Board H. Carl McCall and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.

Photo Credit: SUNY Upstate Medical University

“We must apply the knowledge we do have to solving the urgent problems of the day that affect health such as poverty, violence and racism locally and globally,” Dr. Laraque-Arena said in her Upstate Medical inauguration speech. “These things are inextricably connected.”




































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