Leading national and local public health agencies


Leading national and local public health agencies

Public health leadership 8: major national and local public health agencies


As the COVID pandemic has demonstrated, public health leadership at local and state levels is essential to mobilize the response to threats posed by a pandemic. In addition, effective leadership is essential to lead the disease and injury prevention effort at the community level more broadly. In this series of articles, we focus on the characteristics of effective leadership in these contexts, drawing on the findings of a unique national study led by Dr. Paul Halverson, Dean of the Fairbanks School of Public Health at the ‘Indiana University.

In these columns, we highlight the role of the State Health Officer (SHO) and identify what success really means in this crucial role. What we have learned about the success of SHO is easily translated into leadership at the local and national levels of the public health system. In addition to these columns on success factors, we stress the need to avoid the “derailment” among high-level leaders. In a 2010 column, we point the way to a national accreditation system for state and local health agencies that became a reality over the next decade.

    1. Looking to the Future: Linking Accreditation, Health Reform and Policy Opportunities (2010)
    2. State Health Officials – Define Success and Identify Critical Success Factors (2017)
    3. Preventing the Derailment of Leaders – A Strategic Imperative for Public Health Agencies (2018)
    4. What public health officials wish they had known and how they learned best (2018)
    5. Health Authority Derailment Prevention – Warning Signs and Prevention Strategies (2020)

Interview with the manager: Dr Paul Halverson

These columns are accompanied by an interview with Dr Halverson who describes his own experience as a public health official as well as the main findings of the research study he led.


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