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Board of Health committee recommends restructuring leadership similar to most local health jurisdictions

After an exhaustive search for Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s next Director of Health, our Board of Health executive recruitment committee recommends splitting the Director of Health position into 2 roles – Administrator and Health Officer. This restructure in leadership aligns with most local health jurisdiction similar in size and will best serve the people of Tacoma and Pierce County.

The two roles will allow for the unique strengths and skill sets necessary to operate an innovative local health jurisdiction. Administrators serve as the executive and strategic leaders of health jurisdictions while state statute sets the requirements of the health officer role, which include being licensed to practice medicine in Washington state.

“It’s no surprise that the work of this position requires more than one person since it was last filled 15 years ago,” said Board of Health Chair Catherine Ushka. “Hiring an Administrator separate from the Health Officer will also significantly increase our pool of candidates. We will continue our search locally and nationally to find the best people to effectively lead our nationally recognized Health Department.”

In late June, the committee interviewed 3 finalists who met the minimum qualifications of the Director of Health position. These finalists also answered questions at a forum in August with about 220 Health Department staff and a separate forum of about 20 community stakeholders. After extensive discussions and review of feedback, the committee determined this restructure of leadership to be the best course of action.

Health Department staff will bring forward a resolution to approve 2 new job classifications and salary ranges at the Sept. 6 Board of Health regular meeting. The Board’s approval of these new classifications is the first step in a new recruitment process for the 2 positions. The recruitment committee will then reconvene and provide updated timelines as soon as possible.

In July, the Board appointed Deputy Director Cindan Gizzi to Interim Director of Health. She will continue to fill that role while the recruitment committee searches for the Department’s next leaders. The Health Department is also contracting with former Director of Health, Dr. Anthony L-T Chen, to fill Health Officer duties.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment to protect public health. We are one of 321 accredited health departments in the country and among six in

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