Ohio Governor Appoints First Woman as Director of State Department of Health - Diverse Health

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Ohio Governor Appoints First Woman as Director of State Department of Health

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by Monica Levitan

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has announced the appointment of Dr. Amy Acton as the first woman to serve as director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Acton has decades of experience working as a doctor and administrator, and most recently served as a community research and grants management officer at the Columbus Foundation. She also served as an assistant professor at The Ohio State University’s College of Public Health for seven years.

Acton is also the first physician to lead the department in nearly five years.

DeWine praised Acton’s extensive background in public health and preventive medicine during her appointment announcement. The previous two health directors, under then-Gov. John Kasich, were a health department lawyer, Lance Himes and Rick Hodges, the former director of the Ohio Turnpike and a health center marketing director, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

“We have to rethink how we approach this department,” DeWine said, adding that he I looking forward to the agency addressing issues like substance abuse, youth suicide, infant mortality and lead-paint poisoning.

“I wanted someone to help me and other Cabinet members attack some of the issues we face,” DeWine said.

Acton said she has a holistic approach to public health and the factors that feed into wellness or illness.

“The food we eat is our health,” Acton said. “Where we live, the zip code we’re born into is our health. All the things that surround us are creating the conditions in which we can lead flourishing lives.”

Acton will receive an annual salary of $230,000, making her the highest-paid member of DeWine’s Cabinet.

Acton received a master’s degree in public health from Ohio State University, a medical degree at what was previously known as the Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine and completed an internship and residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, respectively. She also completed a residency in preventive medicine at Ohio State.

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