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Environmental Health Director Jessica Gehle named one of 40 under 40 in public health

We knew she was the best. We love that other people see it too.

Our Environmental Health Director, Jessica Gehle, was recently named to the prestigious 40 Under 40 in Public Health list by the de Beaumont Foundation. Jessica was one of only 14 people west of the Mississippi to be recognized.

Jessica leads a team of 85 staff members. She and our other managers set public health strategy to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County.

Jessica’s work allows her to showcase her talents with both people and policy.

“I believe success in this new way of doing business includes public health advocacy and strong community partnerships,” Jessica said. “I love working with managers and other leaders to improve their communication, strategy and financial skills.”

Jessica has long been known around our offices for her creative problem-solving.

She began earning that reputation when she took over as clinic supervisor in our Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV program in 2013. Jessica wanted to focus on our customers and noticed some of our processes were clunky. With her team, she helped transform our paper-based system into electronic records. She expanded our clinic hours, allowing more options for those who needed services. The result? More chances for our customers to get help, and an easier process once they arrive.

Our Environmental Health customers are benefiting from Jessica’s leadership in much the same way. Securing permits for septic systems and wells can be time-consuming. Customers didn’t enjoy traveling between different agencies during the process. The Health Department worked with Pierce County Planning and Public Works to solve the problem. Jessica’s division transferred additional staff members to Pierce County Annex. They work alongside county planners, engineers and biologists, creating one-stop shopping for permits. Jessica is also supporting a revamp of the permit review process, making life easier for everyone involved.

“Leadership is planting seeds, then trusting your talented staff members to grow them. We focus on what we do and how we do it,” Jessica said. “We aim to be high-performing, innovative and quality-focused.”

Way to go, Jessica! You are a great example of one person’s light growing to shine on a whole community. You make Pierce County a healthier place to live, learn, work and play.