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The mentors, visionaries and strategic leaders of .

As we close Women’s History Month, it’s a great time to meet some of the women making local public health history right here in Pierce County.

Women make up 74% of our staff and 64% of our executive management team. They are transforming the culture of the agency and recruiting and mentoring the next generation of women into public health careers.  

These passionate leaders help protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County.

Womens History Month_HD Leaders_Facebook

Ingrid Payne, Project Manager and COVID-19 Incident Commander

Ingrid helps keep Pierce County safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. As one of the COVID-19 Incident Commanders, Ingrid coordinates projects like testing, vaccination and community engagement.

She also works closely with community partners and contractors, building connections to get things done.

“The Incident Commander sets the tone and the strategic direction for COVID-19 operations,” Ingrid said. “Having good, solid relationships helps me get answers quickly.”

Cindan Gizzi, Deputy Director

Cindan is a 20-year Department veteran. Second in command, Cindan worked her way into leadership after starting as an epidemiologist.

“When I first joined management team, I was 1 of only 3 women at the table,” Cindan said. “Today, that number has more than doubled.”  

Cindan provides operational oversight for the Department. She also actively mentors other women in the agency and inspires young leaders in our community.

“I’ve been able to model being a woman in a leadership position to younger girls,” she said. “I participate in community events for girls interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) majors because of my background in epidemiology.”

Sebrena Chambers, Strengthening Families Division Director

Sebrena said she values the Department’s attention to hiring and advancing women in the workforce. She credits the agency for its efforts to build women leaders.

“We encourage women to apply for promotions, provide sponsorship and mentorship opportunities, and lead initiatives and committees,” she said.

Sebrena began her career at the Department 25 years ago as an assistant public health educator.

“Being an African American woman speaks volumes to people of color here,” Sebrena said. “They see a person of color and a woman in leadership role, and it shows them endless possibilities.”

Jessica Gehle, Environmental Health Division Director

Jessica has recruited more women to leadership positions in her division.

“My staff’s job is to plant seeds,” she said. “I then make space for my team to add water and grow their seeds.”

She credits our infant-at-work policy as an excellent benefit that supports women in the workplace. The Department allows parents of infants 6 months and under to bring their babies to work, which promotes critical bonding. It also promotes a healthy work/life balance.

“Being able to exclusively breastfeed my baby saved me time from breast pumping,” Jessica said.

Jessica serves on a statewide Foundational Public Health Services committee. It develops and implements strategies to reduce environmental health hazards.

Darlene Mendoza, Human Resources and Risk Manager

Darlene helps advance equity within the Department. She says our policy of focusing on diverse hires inspired her to join our team.

Now, she furthers our hiring goals.

“The Health Department does a great job hiring and promoting women in leadership positions, especially diverse candidates,” Darlene said. “When I applied, I took note of the number of women leaders on my interview panel.”

Naomi Wilson, Community Assessment Manager

Naomi leads our data and surveillance team, a group of epidemiologists who investigate patterns and causes of disease.

People are more interested in public health data after the COVID-19 pandemic made it highly visible. Naomi’s team ensures the data we give you is reliable and accurate.

Naomi says the Department doesn’t have traditional barriers like other workplaces. Our virtual worksite policy allows her to work a flexible schedule from home.

“As a single mother I feel supported in the workplace,” she said. “I’m trying to juggle it all. Work flexibility improves my productivity and work/life balance.”

Edie Jeffers, Communications and Community Relations Manager

If you noticed a change in how we communicate with you, it might be because of Edie. She leads the team that elevates local public health stories.

“I help Health Department staff think about how our communications can connect with those we serve,” Edie said. “Words shouldn’t get in the way. In fact, our communication should build bridges. When you come to our website, see an ad, or read our brochures, expect to learn how a service will benefit you.”

Laurie Jinkins, Senior Advisor

Laurie advances strategic policy at the Department. She also serves as a member of Washington House of Representatives.

Laurie made history in 2020 when she became Washington’s first female and first lesbian Speaker of the House.

“The Health Department mentors women into leadership roles, and these women work tirelessly to influence and transform our agency’s culture,” Laurie said.

Strong women make strong public health. These women lead the strategic direction of our agency working to improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County.

Are you interested in a career in public health? You could be our next leader! Learn about our job opportunities and benefits at tpchd.org/employment.