O’Dowd honored with first Distinguished Alumnus Award for U.S. Attorney’s Office

Cooper University Health Care co-CEO Kevin O’Dowd was honored with the first-ever Distinguished Alumnus Award from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey for his exceptional leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced Monday afternoon.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito. (File photo)

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest public health crisis this state has ever encountered,” Carpenito said. “In times of crisis, we need great leaders, and Kevin O’Dowd is precisely the kind of leader New Jersey needs right now. I was blessed to work directly with Kevin at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and watch his impressive career. Because he is now standing out as a leader in the state’s response to COVID-19, I can think of no one more deserving for our first ever Distinguished Alumnus Award.”

Last March, when the pandemic was taking hold in the state, Gov. Phil Murphy appointed O’Dowd to serve as the southern regional coordinator for the state’s COVID-19 response — working with other hospitals in the region on planning and care. It’s a role O’Dowd continues to play — and one that will take on additional significance as it will help to oversee the rollout of the state’s vaccination program.

O’Dowd, who has been at Cooper since November 2014, is well known for his time as Gov. Chris Christie’s chief counsel and chief of staff, from 2010-14. He also served Christie as the chief of the Securities and Health Care Fraud Unit in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office — a role he had for seven years.

On Monday, O’Dowd said he was humbled to be honored by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“This award is a tremendous honor,” he said. “I am humbled and grateful to the U.S. attorney and his leadership team for considering me worthy of such a recognition. There are so many talented and dedicated individuals who have worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey who are more deserving.

“I want to thank the women and men of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for continuing to work so hard throughout the pandemic, with a particular thank you for their efforts to combat price-gouging in connection with COVID-related equipment and supplies. Last, I want to thank all of my former colleagues and friends, who I will always think about and acknowledge as being a part of this award.”

During his seven-year tenure with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, O’Dowd investigated and prosecuted cases ranging from computer hacking and intellectual property theft to complex health care, securities and financial fraud. He was also the chair of the office’s Health Care Task Force.

O’Dowd was twice awarded the Integrity Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Award for Excellence from the U.S. President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency. In 2012, Seton Hall University School of Law presented O’Dowd with the St. Thomas More Medal for his distinguished public service.