Leading State and Local Public Health Agencies

Public Health Leadership 8: Leading State and Local Public Health Agencies


As the COVID pandemic has demonstrated, public health leadership at the local and state levels is central to mobilizing the response to the threats posed by a pandemic. Further, effective leadership is central to leading the effort to prevent disease and injury at the community level more broadly. In this series of columns, we focus on the characteristics of effective leadership in those settings by drawing on the findings of a unique national study led by Dr. Paul Halverson, Dean, Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health.

In these columns, we highlight the role of the state health official (SHO) and identify what success really means in that crucial role. What we learned about SHO success easily translates to leadership at the local and national levels of the public health system. In addition to these columns on success factors we emphasize the need to avoid “derailment” among top level leaders. In a column from 2010, we point the way toward a national system for accreditation of state and local health agencies which has become reality over the subsequent decade.

    1. Looking Back from the Future: Connecting Accreditation, Health Reform and Political Opportunities (2010)
    2. State Health Officials — Defining Success and Identifying Critical Success Factors (2017)
    3. Preventing Leader Derailment — A Strategic Imperative for Public Health Agencies (2018)
    4. What State Health Officials Wish They Had Known and How They Learned Best (2018)
    5. Preventing Health Official Derailment — Warning Signs and Prevention Strategies (2020)

Leader Interview: Dr. Paul Halverson

These columns are accompanied by an interview with Dr. Halverson who describes his own experience as a state health official along with key findings from the research study which he led.