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Dr. Anthony Chen officially retires as Director of Health

After more than 14 years leading Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Dr. Anthony L-T Chen officially retired last week from his position as Director of Health.

Our Board of Health plans to honor Dr. Chen for his years of outstanding service to our community at an upcoming meeting, just as the Pierce County and Tacoma councils did last month.

Through the years, Dr. Chen earned praise for his work at the Health Department as an effective community convener and his ability to build strong partnerships with local health systems, the healthcare community, education, and many community organizations.

Dr. Anthony L-T Chen thanks staff at a retirement party in June 2023.

On Wednesday, the Board appointed Deputy Director Cindan Gizzi to Interim Director of Health until a permanent Director of Health is hired. This will help the Health Department continue to provide the essential services that protect the health of all people and places in Pierce County.

“Tacoma and Pierce County are incredibly fortunate to have Cindan step into this interim role to provide the stability and continuity that our communities need during this time of transition,” said Board of Health Chair Catherine Ushka, “For more than two decades, Cindan’s deep commitment to public service has never wavered. Cindan has had a proven track record of success at keeping our communities healthy and safe, and I am grateful for her leadership as we finalize our selection of our next Director of Health.”

In addition to serving as Deputy Director for the Health Department, Gizzi serves as President-Elect of Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials. She has a Master’s of Public Health in the field of Epidemiology from UCLA.

The Board approved a resolution at its June 21 meeting for a contract with Dr. Chen to continue as Health Officer. His new title is Director Emeritus. He will continue signing health orders and food handler cards and provide other Health Officer tasks. He will also provide some Director of Health duties as requested, including:

  • Orientation of the new Director of Health.
  • Consultation with Department Management Team members.
  • Participation in ongoing community partnership initiatives like Pierce County Opioid Task Force and the Mayor of Tacoma’s Roundtable on Violence Prevention.

The Health Department continues its search for a new Director, who will also serve as the county’s Health Officer as Dr. Chen did. The executive recruiter screened 16 candidates last month and are checking references of semifinalists to narrow the pool for interviews later this month with Board members, community stakeholders and staff.

The Mayor of Tacoma and Pierce County Executive will make the final selection, and the County and Tacoma City councils will confirm the appointment.

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 the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at tpchd.org.

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