Baton Rouge – David W. Hood, secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals, today announced that Sharon G. Howard has been promoted to the position of assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health.

For the past three years, Howard has served as OPH’s deputy assistant secretary overseeing the Center for Preventive Health. In that role, Howard was in charge of programs related to children's special health services, family planning, adolescent health initiatives, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, immunizations, maternal and child health, the WIC program, school-based health centers and more.

"Sharon has demonstrated the leadership ability necessary to make significant improvements in the health status of women and children," Hood said. "I am confident that her experience and commitment will enable our Office of Public Health to continue to move forward, especially in the age of new and emerging diseases and the need to prepare for possible bio-terrorism threats."

Howard succeeds Madeline McAndrew, who has headed the Office of Public Health for the past three years. McAndrew will continue at LDH as an executive management consultant to Secretary Hood and a member of the executive management team.

"The Office of Public Health has become a stronger office under Maddie’s leadership," Hood said. "During her tenure, Louisiana has implemented one of the best smallpox inoculation programs in the nation, our preparedness for a bio-threat has increased tremendously and, from a technology standpoint, we have entered the 21st century. Public health is stronger because of Ms. McAndrew."

Hood added that the challenges facing public health are daunting, but that Howard’s experience and understanding of public health will pay immediate dividends.

"Louisiana is fortunate to have people like Sharon who can build on the solid foundation that has been developed, and who can bring innovative thinking to the challenges that still await. In addition, Sharon has a unique ability to motivate people, and her commitment to public service is unsurpassed," Hood said.