Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) employee Sofia Pereira has been named the department’s new director of Public Health and will be stepping into her new role June 27. Pereira is replacing Michele Stephens, who was promoted to Assistant Director of DHHS in March after serving in an interim capacity since April 2020.
Pereira previously worked as a legislative analyst for the department from 2014 through early 2017, at which time she left to work as a community manager and then a program director for She Should Run, a nonprofit that focuses on increasing the number of women who run for political office. She returned to DHHS in 2019 as an Emergency Preparedness Analyst for the Public Health Branch and was promoted to Program Coordinator for the same program less than a year later.
During the county’s COVID-19 response, Pereira has served as the Operations Chief working closing with Stephens and Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman and overseeing approximately 200 staff working in communicable disease investigations, testing, human services and vaccination.
In her new capacity, Pereira will focus on guiding Public Health programs and services through the new lens of COVID-19, while integrating lessons learned during the pandemic and continuing to improve the community’s health and preparedness. She will also advocate for continued investment in Public Health by the state and federal government and work with community partners on the Public Health Strategic Plan and Community Health Improvement Plan, which focus on long-term efforts to address health-related issues in the community.
DHHS Director Connie Beck said, “Sofia has well-established relationships at both the local and state level, which will be beneficial in her new role.”
As Public Health Director, Pereira will be responsible for the Communicable Disease Program and its continued expansion due to COVID funding; the Public Health Clinic; Public Health Nursing; Environmental Health; Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health programs including the Women, Infants & Children nutrition program; the department’s state-of-the art laboratory; and a variety of grant-funded programs focused around improving the health of our communities.
Pereira holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Humboldt State University.
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