LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The deputy director at one of the nation's largest urban health departments has been tapped by Mayor Greg Fischer to head the Louisville Metro Department for Public Health and Wellness.
Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt is deputy director of community health administration for the District of Columbia Department of Health. Fischer said she was selected from among many strong applicants in a nationwide search.
"Dr. Nesbitt is strongly qualified to lead our charge for making Louisville a much healthier city for all of our citizens regardless of economic status, race or ethnicity," Fischer said. "Her experience and leadership at a major health department in one of our nation's most challenging urban environments gives her unique qualifications for this position, and we are thrilled to add her to our team."
Before joining the D.C. Health Department, Nesbitt held a top position at the University Of Maryland School of Medicine. She has extensive experience in providing health care services to patients including adolescents in urban areas. A practicing physician, Nesbitt's academic interests include racial and ethnic disparities in health care and improving access to care for the uninsured and underinsured. She earned a Master of Public Health in Health Care Management from the Harvard School of Public Health.
"I'm tremendously excited about this new opportunity," Nesbitt said. "Louisville is a wonderful city, but one with significant health challenges. I look forward to working with community leaders and partners to continue making Louisville a healthier place for all its citizens."
In January Fischer appointed a seven-member search committee to replace Dr. Adewale Troutman who left Louisville last year for a new position in Florida. The search committee included William Altman, Chair of the Louisville Board of Health. "Based on my interactions with Dr. Nesbitt, we have found a leader who not only can continue the momentum we have but bring to Louisville fresh ideas and energy to make us world class in public health and health equity."
Dr. Nesbitt, who will be paid $180,000 annually, also will have a faculty appointment at the University of Louisville School of Public Health. Louisville Metro Government and UofL will split Dr. Nesbitt's salary and benefits equally.
"Dr. Nesbitt brings a wide-range of expertise to this community," said Richard Clover, MD, dean, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences. "We look forward to collaborating with her as we prepare the next generation of public health professionals, further the mission of our school, and tackle the public health issues that so dramatically impact the people of Kentucky and our region."
Fischer praised the work of Dr. Matt Zahn who has served as acting health director for the past seven months. "I want to offer heartfelt thanks to Dr. Zahn for the strong, focused leadership he has provided at the health department that has resulted in significant achievements and continued progress."
Nesbitt will take over a health department that has achieved a growing national reputation for programs that target obesity, nutrition, and active living including the Mayor's Healthy Hometown Movement.
In 2010, the department was selected by the Centers for Disease Control to receive a $7.9 million Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant. Under the grant, the Public Health and Wellness Department is engaged with community organizations on initiatives for improving access to nutritional food and awareness of healthier eating, encouraging exercise and fitness and reducing health risks such as smoking and obesity.