New state public health director hired

Posted by Craig Jarvis on January 23, 2014 

A new state public health director has been chosen, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos announced Thursday.

Penelope Slade-Sawyer will become director of the Division of Public Health on March 3, responsible for 1,800 employees and $800 million in state and federal funds annually. Update: She will be paid $143,000 a year.

Slade-Sawyer is currently a rear admiral as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, and is an assistant surgeon general at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.

Before that, she was deputy assistant secretary for health, disease prevention and health promotion, and directed the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the federal DHHS.

This will not be her first time in North Carolina. She earned a degree in physical therapy and a master’s degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and led the physical rehabilitation department at the Federal Medical Center in Butner.

She replaces Dr. Laura Gerald, who resigned last year, and will work with Dr. Robin Gary Cummings, who will continue as the acting state health director.

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