ASTHO Appoints Joseph Kanter, MD, MPH, as New Chief Executive Officer

March 04, 2024

Joseph Kanter HeadshotARLINGTON, VA—The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) today announced that Joseph Kanter, MD, MPH, has been named as the organization's chief executive officer, effective April 8, 2024. Dr. Kanter, a board-certified emergency physician, brings a wealth of experience to ASTHO including prior public service as both a Louisiana state health officer and municipal health director. He has demonstrated exceptional leadership and expertise in public health, making him ideally suited to lead the organization.

"Dr. Kanter’s expertise navigating a complex policy environment, leading a dynamic team of public health professionals, and his compassion make him uniquely suited for this role," says Steven J. Stack, MD, MBA, ASTHO president. "I worked collaboratively with him during his tenure as a state health officer and witnessed first-hand his ability to communicate to a broad array of audiences to build trust amongst colleagues, partners, and the public."

"I am honored by this opportunity to serve as CEO and look forward to supporting state and territorial health agencies in their collective mission to advance public health and promote optimal health for all," says Joseph Kanter, MD, MPH. "As a former member, I know the immense value ASTHO brings to the field of public health and its essential role in facilitating collaboration and coordination among public health officials nationwide. I look forward to advancing ASTHO’s mission by working in partnership with federal agencies, members, staff, affiliated organizations, and alumni."

Dr. Kanter joins ASTHO from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) where he served as state health officer and medical director from January 2021 - February 2024. He led the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and consulted on a range of issues relating to policy, program implementation, quality and accessibility of care, health equity, emergency preparedness, and infection control. Additionally, he oversaw the enforcement of the state’s Sanitary Code. He previously held key roles within LDH, including assistant state health officer, interim assistant secretary, and regional medical director.

Prior to his state service, Dr. Kanter served as director of health for the City of New Orleans, leading a comprehensive opioid mitigation strategy under Mayor Mitch Landrieu. This initiative included issuing the first-in-the-state standing order for naloxone, equipping police with the reversal medication, expanding access to medication assisted treatment, promoting harm reduction services, and initiating a city-wide effort to reduce the stigma of addictive disorders.

Dr. Kanter is a practicing physician and clinical assistant professor of medicine at both LSU Health Sciences Center and Tulane School of Medicine. He previously served as the medical director of the New Orleans Health Department Health Care for Homeless program. He received his medical doctorate and master's in public health from Tulane University, a B.A. in history from Northwestern University, and is a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.