County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced in a press release Friday that Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), will be departing the county at the end of July.
The press release indicated that she was leaving to take a position with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She has accepted a position as director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP).
Dr. Hacker was hired in May 2013 and assumed the role of director of the health department in September of that year.
According to the release, she has led her department’s work in air quality including putting more inspectors and environmental enforcement agents in place, instituting larger fines and taking strong regulatory actions to improve the air quality in the Mon Valley. Earlier this year, the department reported that the PM 2.5 levels at the Liberty monitor met the EPA standard for the first time.
As director of NCCDPHP, Dr. Hacker will be the principal adviser on a national program for the prevention of premature mortality, morbidity, and disability due to chronic illnesses and conditions and promotes the overall health of the population. A member of CDC’s executive leadership team, she will be responsible for making long-term strategic decisions related to chronic disease prevention and health promotion. She will work out of the Atlanta, Georgia offices of the agency.
It is unclear who will lead the ACHD as the county searches for a new director. It is GASP’s hope that the county will ensure the position is filled by someone who prioritizes environmental health.