Leadership During COVID-19

Public Health Leadership 7: Leadership During the COVID-19 Pandemic


At no time in the modern history of public health has leadership been more critical than during the COVID 19 pandemic. In these columns, we share a crisis leadership framework used by leaders to guide their daily practice in achieving situational awareness, making decisions in the face of uncertainty, communicating complex information to a range of audiences, managing the energy of their teams, and learning from these unprecedented experiences. We also offer a set of practical suggestions on the timely subject of conducting effective virtual meetings while managing “COVID fatigue.”

  1. Thoughts on Adaptive Leadership during a Challenging Time (2020)
  2. Crisis Leadership–From the Haiti Earthquake to the COVID Pandemic (2020)
  3. Conducting Successful Virtual Meetings While Managing COVID Fatigue (2021)
  4. Leading in the COVID-19 Crisis: Challenges and Solutions for State Health Leaders (2021)
  5.  The Public Health Worker Mental Health Crisis (2022)


John Wiesman interview

John Wiesman, DrPH, MPH, is a Professor of the Practice in the Department of Health Policy and Management (HPM) at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health where he serves as the program director of the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program in health leadership. He brings 30 years of governmental public health practice to the Department. Dr. Wiesman is an accomplished transformational leader who focuses on system approaches to improving the public’s health.

Prior to joining the faculty, he served as the Washington State Secretary of Health for seven years where he led that state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also served as a local health director and as president of ASTHO and NACCHO.

In this interview, Dr. Wiesman focuses on:

    • His own formative influences that laid the foundation for his public health career,
    • The challenge of making wise decisions in the face of uncertainty and conflicting information, especially during the early days of the pandemic,
    • The longer-term challenges associated “COVID fatigue” over the ensuing months of 2020-21,
    • The importance of maintaining personal health routines, which were challenged by the extremely long work days for a prolonged period.