Jeffrey Howard

Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer

Kentucky Department for Public Health

Jeffrey Howard was in the middle of his surgical residency at the University of Louisville when he decided to pursue an MPH at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. During that time, he was an advisor in the office of the Kentucky Commissioner of Public Health. Within three months, he was appointed acting commissioner at age 29 and then commissioner six months later. He is dedicated to combating the opioid epidemic and its infectious complications, addressing adverse childhood events, and building sustainable models for public health. He has participated in national roundtable discussions focusing on the prevention of opioid abuse and continues to support efforts to promote access to treatment through the Mobile Harm Reduction Pharmacy as well as programming to address Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Jeff earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from Union College and an MD from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He went on to receive his MBA from Northern Kentucky University and Master of Public Health from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

BOLD SOLUTION: Jeff redesigned Kentucky’s public health structure to overcome a $40 million deficit while also improving health outcomes. He embarked on a year-long process of gaining local buy-in and strategically uniting state and local entities. He then introduced a new emergent public health system with the goal of a more simple, focused, and prioritized public health system based on modern public health principles. Jeff considers the public health system is a new and innovative approach to public health structure that focuses first on the community.
It has been my position and opinion for some time that the issues facing America, and Kentucky particularly, have to do with the degradation of community. As such, my top priority has always been to refocus our efforts on improving and reuniting communities throughout the state.