New health director and SPHIS faculty member, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt
The deputy director at one of the nation’s largest urban health departments has been tabbed 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.”
Prior to joining the D.C. Health Department, Dr. 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, Dr. 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.
Further background on Dr. Nesbitt
LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, MD, MPH
Senior Deputy Director
Community Health Administration
District of Columbia Department of Health
Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt is a board-certified family physician who is Senior Deputy Director for the Community Health Administration (CHA) at the District of Columbia Department of Health. The mission of the Community Health Administration is to improve health outcomes for targeted populations by promoting coordination within the health care system, by enhancing access to prevention, medical care and support services, and by fostering public participation in the design and implementation of programs for District of Columbia families.
Dr. Nesbitt previously served as the Senior Deputy Director for the Center for Policy, Planning, and Evaluation which includes the State Center for Health Statistics (SCHS) and the State Health Planning and Development Agency (SHPDA). The SHPDA is responsible for conducting health planning, policy formulation and regulatory activities in the District of Columbia, and serves as the principal office for recommending health system policy for the District of Columbia. The State Center for Health Statistics, a federally designated entity, is responsible for the collection, statistical analyses, maintenance, and dissemination of vital records data.
Prior to joining the DC Department of Health, Dr. Nesbitt was Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and the Senior Coordinator for Health Disparities and Policy Research Initiatives in the Office of Policy & Planning at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Her responsibilities encompassed providing primary care services to patients in inner-city Baltimore including adolescent health services, preventive medicine services, and chronic disease management with an emphasis on hypertension and diabetes care. Her academic interests include racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes and health care services, workforce diversity, and improving access to care for the uninsured and underinsured through policy and health services research. Dr. Nesbitt maintains medical licensure in the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland where she provides medical services in the urgent care setting.
Dr. Nesbitt received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, her medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine, and a Master of Public Health in Health Care Management and Policy from the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Nesbitt completed an internship in family medicine at the University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Nesbitt completed her family medicine residency in the University of Maryland’s Department of Family Medicine where she served as chief resident. Dr. Nesbitt completed her fellowship training with the Commonwealth Fund Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy.