State health directors from across the nation have elected Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), to be President-Elect of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), providing Dr. Alexander-Scott with a national platform to advocate for the health priorities of Rhode Islanders and people throughout the country.
ASTHO is comprised of the chief health official in each U.S. state and territory. Dr. Alexander-Scott will spend a year working with the current President to help steer the organization before assuming the role of President in September, 2018. Dr. John Wiesman, Secretary of Health at the Washington State Department of Health, is beginning his term as ASTHO's President as Dr. Alexander-Scott begins her term as President-Elect.
"I was both humbled and honored to be elected President-Elect of ASTHO. State health directors from across the country made this decision after looking at the tremendous successes brought about in Rhode Island by the 480 individuals that I am honored to call colleagues at RIDOH," said Dr. Alexander-Scott. "Our focus at RIDOH is ensuring that every person and community in Rhode Island has an equal opportunity to be as healthy as possible, regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, level of education, level of income, or insurance status. As President-Elect of ASTHO, I will be partnering with the top public health officials in the nation whose expertise will help us make this vision a reality."
"We are honored to have Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH serve as ASTHO president-elect," said ASTHO Executive Director Michael Fraser. "She brings unique experience to this role as a practicing physician who specializes in adult and pediatric infectious diseases. We applaud her commitment to public health and appreciate her ongoing leadership to ensure optimal health for all."
ASTHO develops and guides public health policy and ensures excellence in state-based public health practice. Through its leadership team, ASTHO coordinates and advises state health directors on the impacts of health policy and provides them with guidance and technical assistance on improving the nation's health. In addition to the numerous public health policy areas that ASTHO contributes to, each President selects an ASTHO President's Challenge for her or his term. Secretary Wiesman is continuing the 2017 focus (Public Health Approaches to Preventing Substance Misuse and Addictions).
Dr. Alexander-Scott has been the Director of Health at RIDOH since April 2015. She is board-certified in Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, and Adult Infectious Diseases. Under Dr. Alexander-Scott's leadership, RIDOH is working to ensure that every person and community has an equal opportunity to be as healthy as possible by addressing the social, environmental, and economic determinants of health. Poverty, employment opportunities, accessible transportation, education, discrimination, access to healthy food, and access to housing that is free of toxins and other environmental hazards are examples of these underlying determinants of health, which research indicates impact approximately 80% of an individual's health outcomes.
As a Regional Representative on the ASTHO Board of Directors with Dr. Wiesman, Dr. Alexander-Scott has worked closely with the current President.
In addition to Dr. Alexander-Scott and Dr. Wiesman, Gerd Clabaugh, the Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, also assumed a leadership role at ASTHO this month. He now serves as the organization's secretary-treasurer.