Jefferson County Public Health’s announces new Executive Director, Dr. Dawn Comstock
Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is excited to announce and welcome its new Executive Director, Dr. Dawn Comstock. Dr. Comstock is bringing with her decades of experience and a passion for data-driven, equity-minded public health work.
“I am excited to join the outstanding staff of public health professionals at JCPH as they continue working to meet today’s needs of our Jefferson County communities while innovating and evolving to provide incomparable service to the people of Jefferson County in the future,” Dr. Comstock said.
Most recently, Comstock was a Professor of Epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz and the Program for Injury Prevention, Education and Research. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she worked for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) assisting with COVID-19 response activities, including case investigation and contact tracing efforts. In this work, she saw firsthand the challenges the pandemic has posed to the people and communities of Colorado, as well as the health inequities underlined by COVID-19. She said this experience emphasized the need for robust health equity work and accentuated her own passion for these efforts.
“I am adamant that we must identify innovative methods to address equity issues. While a physician cares for the health of an individual, we in public health care for the entire population,” Dr. Comstock said.
Comstock has also seen how this work has profoundly affected both the profession of public health and those who work in it. Most immediately, her goal is to finish the COVID-19 work and to get the pandemic resolved. As the COVID-19 situation winds down, public health professionals need to focus on the recovery and the future needs of the workforce and the community. Comstock believes it is critical to learn lessons from the pandemic and its challenges to build a robust and nimble public health department for the future.
“This pandemic has been the most difficult challenge public health professionals have faced in our careers, and the JCPH staff and leadership must be commended for their superb efforts. The challenges are not yet over, but I am proud to join this tirelessly dedicated group of public health professionals in the ongoing efforts to protect the people of Jefferson County during this pandemic,” Dr. Comstock said. “JCPH’s focus will continue to center on promoting preventive efforts including mask wearing, 6 ft. distancing and frequent hand washing while also working to continue to scale up vaccine distribution. Additionally, one of our points of emphasis over the upcoming months will be to address equity issues in vaccine distribution to ensure those in Jefferson County’s traditionally underserved populations have access to vaccination. Moving forward post-pandemic, I look forward to leading JCPH efforts to continue to address the day-to-day needs of our community while anticipating and preparing for the next public health emergency.”
Before joining the COVID-19 efforts at CDPHE or the faculty at Colorado School of Public Health, Dr. Comstock worked at Ohio State University and the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Naval Health Research Center, the Environmental Health Services Branch of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer assigned by the CDC as a liaison to the Oklahoma State Department of Health Injury Prevention Service.
Dr. Comstock received her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Colorado State University, her master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of Iowa and her doctorate in public health epidemiology from the University of California San Diego/San Diego State University.
“Dr. Comstock’s background in academia, research, and applied public health position her well to take on the variety of challenges she will face as Executive Director,” said Greg Deranleau, President of the Jefferson County Board of Health. “Her passion, vision and zeal for public health equity will inspire the Jefferson County Public Health team to great achievements. Her values, collaboration and innovation will inspire trust within JCPH and in our community. The Board of Health is excited to welcome her to JCPH.”
In 2017, Dr. Comstock accepted an invitation to serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). The board advises the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Director of the CDC and the Director of NCIPC.
Also in 2017, Dr. Comstock accepted a position on the Jefferson County Board of Health, where she served the people of Jeffco and had a front-row seat into the inner workings of JCPH and the important work done at the health department. She held this role through mid-2020.
“I appreciate the trust the Board of Health has placed in me to lead this exceptional organization. I want to thank my predecessor, Dr. Mark B. Johnson, for building an outstanding public health department staffed by such skilled, knowledgeable and dedicated people,” Dr. Comstock said. “I can’t wait to get started – there is much work to do and many challenges ahead.”
Dr. Comstock’s first official day at JCPH is Today, Feb. 16, 2021, but she began getting up to speed on COVID-19 response efforts in anticipation of her start date. She will be present at the virtual Jefferson County Board of Health meeting on this afternoon, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m., held via Zoom, in an official capacity for the first time.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is a nationally accredited health department committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan for all people through prevention, education and partnerships. To learn more about JCPH visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.