Dr. Michelen was born in San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic into a distinguished family. He received his initial schooling in the Dominican Republic but obtained his medical degree at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. He married Marie Armaly and established a practice as a surgeon in Bethlehem, Palestine. He returned to his native country after a few years where he practiced in the San Juan region’s public hospital system. His administrative skills and acumen were recognized by the Minister of Health, who awarded him a scholarship to obtain his Master’s in Public Health at Columbia University, New York.
Upon his return from studying, he was appointed Superintendent of Hospitals during President Trujillo‘s dictatorship. Dr. Michelen was a fierce critic of the regime, during and after Trujillo’s reign. He was one of the leaders of the opposition to the new government that was formed after Trujillo’s death. The government’s persecution was such that he was forced to leave the country, along with his family, which by now comprises his wife and three sons.
He returned to New York, where he was appointed Associate Director of Elmhurst Hospital in Queens and later Executive Director of Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. He was the first Hispanic and Dominican in New York State to be an executive director of a hospital. As executive director of the hospital, Dr.Michelen recruited a cadre of Latino physicians to the medical staﬀ in an eﬀort to provide culturally appropriate care and better serve the predominantly Latino population of the South Bronx. He successfully advocated for the building of a new Lincoln Hospital at 149th St. and the Grand Concourse. He was also part of a group of community activists that fought for better services in the South Bronx.
In 1968, Dr. Michelen was one of the founders of Hostos Community College of CUNY and its first president. Hostos’ focus was to train a cadre of healthcare para‐professionals that would serve the South Bronx and other underserved areas. His dream was for it to become a medical school. He led Hostos after some years in order to pursue other interests. He was the executive director of the Regional Medical Program in Delaware. He was also director of the Division of Hospital Accreditation of the New York State Department of Health. As director, he was a strong advocate for the patients. He was responsible, among other achievements, for the department’s requirement that all hospitals post the Patient’s Bill of Rights in a visible location. He was a professor of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
He founded and/or led numerous Dominican organizations, including the Dominican Medical Society in NY, (where he served as president), Asociaciones Dominicanas, La Casa Dominicana, and Alianza Dominicana, among others. Moreover, a Day Care Center which is located in Hamilton Heights, NYC, carries the name of this visionary leader, “Dr. Nasry Michelen Day Care Center.” He was one of the founding members and the first Grand Marshal of the Dominican Day Parade. He is most proud of his three sons, seven grandsons and three great granddaughters, who will carry on his tradition. His beloved wife who always felt very proud of him passed away in 2016.