ASTHO Thanks the Public Health Community!

November 17, 2017|3:00 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Today, ASTHO joins Research!America in celebrating Public Health Thank You Day—an opportunity to thank all of the dedicated public health professionals for their tireless work and service in helping to protect and improve the health of all people and communities. To show their gratitude for the public health workforce, members of ASTHO’s board of directors shared a few personal messages, each detailing what they are most thankful for as public health leaders.


John M. Wiesman  

John M. Wiesman, ASTHO President, secretary of health for the Washington State Department of Health:

“As a public health leader I am most thankful for the passionate, dedicated, and persistent public servants who work every day to help make our communities and people as safe and healthy as they can be. It is an incredible privilege to work side by side with them and the community to co-create healthy environments and people.”


Nicole Alexander Scott

Nicole Alexander-Scott, ASTHO President-Elect, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health:

“As a public health leader, I am most thankful for the incredibly talented and committed women and men who I am privileged to call colleagues at the Rhode Island Department of Health, and in public health organizations across the country. These individuals are true inspirations for me! I am also thankful that I wake up every morning and get to do a job that brings me joy and a sense of purpose. I have been blessed in so many ways. One of the most significant ways in which I have been blessed is being given the opportunity to work every day for the health and well-being of the people in every single zip code in my state, which includes lifting the voices of the members of more vulnerable communities who are all too often not heard. It is both a tremendous responsibility and a tremendous honor.”


Gerd Clabaugh

Gerd W. Clabaugh, director of the Iowa Department of Health: “Public health is driven by the people who work in our field. In Iowa, we have incredibly dedicated state and local public health leaders. I see it every day, in their drive and determination to do this important work, and do it more effectively, positively impacting the health of all Iowans. As an association, ASTHO staff and members demonstrate the same drive and determination at the national level, and this effort makes the work we do better for all Iowans and all Americans.”

Marissa Levine

Marissa Levine, commissioner of health for the Virginia Department of Health: “I am thankful for being able to work with people who are so passionate about the public health mission. In addition, I am thankful for the trust the public has placed in us to do this important work. And finally, I am also thankful for the many partnerships that allow us to maximize our effectiveness in our mission of protecting the health and promoting the well-being of all people in Virginia.”

Mary Currier

Mary Currier, state health officer for the Mississippi State Department of Public Health: “I am most thankful for the people I work with throughout throughout this public health agency. I cannot imagine doing this job without the good, dedicated, and smart people I work with every day.”

Nathaniel Smith

Nathaniel Smith, director and state health officer for the Arkansas Department of Health: “As a public health leader, I am most thankful for our public health mission and my public health colleagues. Our public health mission is to protect and improve the health of our neighbors and communities. That is a noble and worthwhile purpose, one that I am proud to be a part of. Because we are a mission-driven profession, I think we attract some of the most talented and committed people. It is a joy to work with people who value their communities and neighbors and are dedicated to working toward their good.”

Randall Williams

Randall Williams, director and state health officer for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: “Our main mission in Missouri is to protect people’s health and keep them safe. I am incredibly thankful for the people who do this on a daily basis. Those who work tirelessly and sacrifice to further the rule of law, both here and overseas, deserve our respect and appreciation. Governor Greitens, as a Navy Seal, and I have both worked in parts of the world where people are not safe and I have seen firsthand in Libya, Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan how that undermines the ability to deliver essential public health services. So for this Veteran’s Day, Public Health Thank You Day, and Thanksgiving, I am thankful for those in uniform, overseas and here in America, who sacrifice to allow those likewise dedicated colleagues in public health to help establish policy and implement programs that help improve people’s lives.”

Mylnn Tufte

Mylynn Tufte, state health officer for the North Dakota Department of Health: “As a new leader in public health, I am most thankful for the hard work and dedication of my fellow co-workers in public health. Their sense of purpose and dedication to prevention, protection, and improving the lives of citizens is inspiring and I’m grateful to be a part of the team.”

Karen Smith

Karen Smith, director and state health officer for the California Department of Public Health: This year, along with everything I am always grateful for—family, friends, and so on—there are new things to be thankful for, particularly the firefighters and law enforcement personnel who worked night and day in nightmarish conditions to keep our communities safe. I am thankful to the many devoted individuals who work for the California Department of Public Health for all of the incredible work they have done during and in the aftermath of the fires. Many of them were forced to evacuate their homes. Some lost all they owned. And yet they came to work as soon as possible and, despite the smoke and confusion, set about doing what they do best: reaching out to affected healthcare facilities, checking their status, ensuring patient safety, assisting at medical shelters and, later, facilitating and monitoring repopulation of the many patients displaced over that very long two week period. We are thankful for the many thoughts, good wishes, and offers of assistance we received from our friends and colleagues in the public health community. I have so much to be thankful for on Public Health Thank You Day and Thanksgiving. One of most important is the opportunity to be a member of the public health community.

Esther Muna

Esther Muna, chief executive officer and financial services administrator of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands: “As a public health leader, I am most thankful for the staff and management of island agencies. Because of our remoteness and infrastructure challenges, our islands rely heavily on the strength of our workforce to monitor and protect our citizens and visitors from infectious diseases. The tiny islands of the Pacific face unique challenges, and without a strong workforce, these threats and risks could easily become disastrous to our citizens and our visitors. I am always amazed at how the public health workforce on these islands finds ways to remove barriers by implementing best practices and providing solutions that build community resiliency. “



Michael Fraser, executive director of ASTHO:

“Public health professionals are often the unsung heroes of state and local governments. I am just in awe of the work that governmental public health does and the many ways public health works daily to keep us all safe, healthy, and well. Thank you for all the work you do!”

ASTHO joins the board of directors and all of its members across the states and territories in thanking the public health workforce for their continued passion, dedication, and service when it comes to the important work of protecting the nation’s health.


Happy Public Health Thank You Day—and Happy Thanksgiving!