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Mayor Names Kirsten Johnson as the City of Milwaukee Commissioner of Health

January 14, 2020

MILWAUKEE— Mayor Tom Barrett today appointed Kirsten Johnson as Commissioner of Health for the City of Milwaukee. Johnson is a public health leader with over 20 years of experience in complex local, state, national and international organizations who is passionate about the intersections of health, policy and equity to promote health and justice for everyone. 

The Commissioner of Health has an overall responsibility for public health assessment, policy development and quality control activities associated with the preservation of the public health in the City of Milwaukee. The Commissioner of Health provides strategic leadership and direction in assessing community health needs, as well as developing and implementing a community health improvement plan, including addressing root causes of poor health and health disparities, preventing and controlling communicable and chronic diseases, promoting reproductive health, healthy child development and school readiness, reducing illness and injury related to the home environment and promoting healthy behaviors and access to health services for all residents.

“In her role as Commissioner, Kirsten Johnson will bring experience, knowledge, and commitment to the Milwaukee Health Department,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “Kirsten has an extensive history of leadership and service in the field of public health. Her expertise will strengthen the efforts of our health department as we continue to navigate the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Johnson previously served as the Director and Health Officer of the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department. In this position, Johnson led a multi-county coronavirus pandemic response, mobilized partners to create multi-sector community health coalitions, represented the health department nationally through media engagement and public speaking and led the effort to implement and manage programs with a health equity lens.

Prior to this role, Johnson served as a Health Policy Fellow and Advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives, Offices of Representative Ron Kind (WI-3) where she analyzed, developed and wrote health policy for the senior member of the House Ways & Means Committee. 

Johnson received her Master of Public Health from Tulane University of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and holds certifications as a Public Health Professional and Certified Education Specialist. 

She has received numerous awards and recognitions, which include the Public Policy Forum’s Intergovernmental Cooperation Award and the Lloyd D. Gladfelter Award for Government Innovation. 

Johnson serves as a member of Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital’s Community Benefits Advisory Board, Medical College of Wisconsin MPH Program Advisory Committee, National Association of City and County Health Officials, Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards and the Wisconsin Public Health Association.

Mayor Barrett expressed his gratitude to Interim Commissioner of Health Marlaina Jackson who has led the department through most of the current pandemic. Interim Commissioner Jackson will resume her role as a deputy commissioner for the Milwaukee Health Department. 

Johnson’s appointment as Commissioner of Health is subject to Common Council confirmation. 

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