NC names new Public Health chief

Posted January 23, 2014

Rear Adm. Penny Slade-Sawyer, North Carolina's new Director of Public Health.

State Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos has named Rear Admiral Penny Slade-Sawyer to lead the state Division of Public Health. 

Wos made the announcement Thursday at the state's annual conference for public health directors in Raleigh.

Slade-Sawyer is currently assistant surgeon general at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Before that, she was an assistant deputy secretary, directing the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 

The new director is no stranger to North Carolina, having previously directed the physical rehabilitation unit at the federal medical center in Butner. She earned a bachelor's degree in physical therapy and a master's in social work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Slade-Sawyer succeeds Dr. Laura Gerald, who left the position in July, citing "differences and disagreements" with the department's policy direction under the leadership of Wos and Gov. Pat McCrory.

"Rear Admiral Slade-Sawyer has been instrumental in setting national agendas for public health research, for program and initiative development and for care," Wos said in a statement. "We are excited that she will be joining our leadership team."

Slade-Sawyer will begin work as state public health director in March. Dr. Robin Cummings will continue to serve as acting state health director indefinitely. DHHS spokeswoman Julie Henry says the state health director is required to be an M.D.  


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  • funnything Jan 25, 2014

    the last apragraph says it all. she is not qualified by law so they have anothe guy acting on her behalf indefinitely. this is gop leadership???

  • lunaharris30 Jan 25, 2014

    Again your qualifications do not matter when you have friends in high places. It's not this position but others have been appointed and they are not qualified. I don't have a teaching degree but probably I should apply to be a principal or head of the wake county school system. She is an MSW what can she tell me about health problems. What a joke this is all is

  • Honesty first Jan 24, 2014

    Dr Devlin was the director several years ago and she was not an MD. I believe she was a dentist by training, still a DR.

  • Honesty first Jan 24, 2014

    Always had a Dr. in this position in the past. Did she contribute to the McCrory campaign as most other appointees have?

  • SmileAndNod Jan 24, 2014

    SNEEZIEGAL: Exactly!

  • rmsmith Jan 24, 2014

    Wait a minute ! If Obamacare is so great, we should no longer need the DHHS.

  • Kaitlyn Jan 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    She is Rear Admiral in the US Public Health Service.

  • bjrenegar Jan 24, 2014

    If she's a military ranked person, where is she stationed? And how is she going to get leave to visit NC to be whichever position it is that Wos has erred once again in filling? Officers in the military can't just have spare full-time jobs!!!

  • sneeziegal Jan 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    no, it's just one job that is now being performed by two people.

  • Kaitlyn Jan 24, 2014

    The article is badly written. I think the health director is a totally different position but it may have been combined with this job in the past.

    Give the woman a chance before you slam her!