Leadership

Umair A. Shah

Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH

Secretary of Health

Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, was appointed Secretary of Health for the Great State of Washington by Governor Jay Inslee in December 2020. He is the first Asian-American physician and first South Asian to serve in this leadership role in the history of the state of Washington.

His appointment came at a difficult time with the winter wave of COVID-19 and arrival of vaccines into the state. In assuming this leadership role at Washington State Department of Health, Dr. Shah made the transition from fighting on the front lines of response as Executive Director and Local Health Authority for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) – the nationally respected public health agency for the nation’s third largest community with nearly five million residents.

Dr. Shah earned his BA (philosophy) from Vanderbilt University; his MD from the University of Toledo Health Science Center; and completed an Internal Medicine Residency, Primary Care/General Medicine Fellowship, and MPH (management), at the University of Texas Health Science Center. He also completed an international health policy internship at World Health Organization headquarters in Switzerland.

Upon completing training, Dr. Shah began a distinguished career as an emergency department physician at Houston’s Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center, where he provided clinical care for over two decades. He started his formal public health journey in 2003 as Chief Medical Officer at Galveston County’s Health District before joining HCPH. Under his leadership, HCPH won numerous national awards, including recognition as Local Health Department of the Year in 2016.

Dr. Shah has held numerous leadership positions with respected entities like the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Trust for America’s Health; Network for Public Health Law; Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute; and the National Association of County and City Health Officials, where he served as president, proudly representing nearly 3,000 local health departments nationwide.

Over his career, Dr. Shah has been a clinician, innovator, educator, and leader in the field of health. He has been a champion of underserved communities, the intersection of health and healthcare, and charting a new course in health centering on cornerstone values of equity, innovation, and engagement. 

Contact and Connect

Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, Washington 98504-7890

360-236-4030

doh.secretary@doh.wa.gov

To invite Dr. Shah to speak at an event, please complete a speaking request form.

Download Dr. Shah's photo.

For media inquiries, contact the media relations team.

Dr. Kwan-Gett

Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH

Chief Science Officer

The Chief Science Officer is the Department of Health’s primary science expert and a key spokesperson on public health issues.

With broad experience in public health, primary care and global health, Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH, combines decades of leadership and research with deep understanding of families and communities to inform policies that protect and improve health for all people in Washington.

Dr. Kwan-Gett has long focused on bringing together people, systems, and ideas—building collaborative relationships with state and local public health leaders in rural and urban regions on both sides of the Cascades. Previously he practiced pediatrics at Virginia Mason for over 12 years with an emphasis on behavioral health; led a team responsible for communicable disease prevention and control as medical epidemiologist for Public Health - Seattle & King County; directed the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice; trained health professionals in cross-sector collaboration and health equity at the Northwest Public Health-Primary Care Leadership Institute; taught at the University of Washington School of Public Health; and volunteered with refugee and immigrant communities locally and internationally.

Dr. Kwan-Gett earned his bachelor and medical degrees at Harvard, completed his pediatric residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and earned his MPH at the University of Washington as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar. A three-time recipient of Seattle Magazine’s “Best Doctors” honor, Dr. Kwan-Gett has co-authored an infectious disease handbook for primary care and published more than two dozen articles in peer-reviewed journals on topics ranging from antibiotic resistance to healthcare transformation. Dr. Kwan-Gett is a Clinical Professor of Health Systems and Population Health at UW.

Contact and Connect

Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, Washington 98504-7890

206-418-5510

TaoSheng.Kwan-Gett@doh.wa.gov

For media inquiries, contact the media relations team.

Jessica Todorovich

Jessica Todorovich

Chief of Staff

The Chief of Staff is responsible for planning and directing all operational activities for the department as well as providing oversight and guidance for projects of high importance.

Ms. Todorovich serves as the Chief of Staff for the Washington State Department of Health. She is responsible for the daily operations of the agency. She has been with the agency since 2012 serving as the HR Director and Deputy Secretary for Administrative Operations and has worked for the state of Washington for 18 years.

She received the Governor’s Leadership Award in 2010 for her work in the field of labor relations. She has her bachelor’s degree in Politics from Whitman College and her Masters of Science in Human Resources from Chapman University in California.

Contact and Connect

Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, Washington 98504-7890

360-236-4030

Jessica.Todorovich@doh.wa.gov

For media inquiries, contact the media relations team.

David Bayne

David Bayne

Deputy Secretary for Strategic Partnerships

The Deputy Secretary for Strategic Partnerships leads the office responsible for coordinating and leading the department’s external relationships and partnership strategies, particularly with the private and academic sectors.

Prior to this role, Mr. Bayne served as the Director of the department’s Center for Public Affairs. A native of Wisconsin, he spent most of his life in Georgia, eventually moving to Atlanta after graduating from Berry College with a degree in Political Science. After working several years for the Georgia State Senate as a healthcare analyst, he became the Legislative Director, and then Deputy Chief of Staff at the Georgia Department of Public Health. He is also a proud graduate of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, earning his Master’s in Public Health in 2017. He has a passion for both urban development and promoting health equity in underserved communities, and has volunteered as a mentor and tutor in a variety of community organizations.

Contact and Connect

Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, Washington 98504-7890

360-239-6395

David.Bayne@doh.wa.gov

For media inquiries, contact the media relations team.

Les Becker

Les Becker

Deputy Secretary for Innovation

The Deputy Secretary of Innovation leads the Office of Innovation and Technology and is responsible for coordinating and leading the department’s innovation, technology, data and informatics strategies.

Mr. Becker joined the Department of Health in June 2021 as the new Deputy Secretary of Innovation, leading the agency's first-ever Office of Innovation and Technology. He is responsible for building and supporting innovation work across the agency, including overseeing our existing data/informatics and health technology services areas.

He previously provided Public Service Leadership in Harris County, Texas, and advanced an array of innovation, data systems, and technology work, including the nationally acclaimed Public Health Innovation Lab. He has also provided strategic consultation on the delivery and implementation of IT and data strategy services in Texas. Les has 18+ years of Public Service leadership and holds a B.A. in Management and MBA with a concentration in Finance from LeTourneau University.

Contact and Connect

Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, Washington 98504-7890

253-281-3925

Les.becker@doh.wa.gov

For media inquiries, contact the media relations team.

Lacy Fehrenbach, MPH

Deputy Secretary for Prevention, Safety and Health

The Deputy Secretary for Prevention, Safety and Health oversees the strategic and operational activities of the agency’s COVID-19 response, as well as its divisions of Prevention and Community Health (PCH); Environmental Public Health; and Health Systems Quality Assurance.

Ms. Fehrenbach served as Deputy Secretary of Health for COVID-19 response from June 2020 through January 2022. Prior to the pandemic, she served as Assistant Secretary of the PCH division. Before coming to Washington state, she worked on national public health policy at the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. She holds a Master in Public Health degree from the George Washington University and is certified in public health.

Contact and Connect

Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, Washington 98504-7890

secretary@doh.wa.gov

For media inquiries, contact the media relations team.

Elizabeth Perez

Elizabeth Perez, MPH

Deputy Secretary for Public Affairs and Equity

The Director of the Center for Public Affairs and Equity leads the agency’s communications; health promotion and education; and community relations and equity functions.

Elizabeth Perez joined the Department of Health in March 2021 from serving five years as Director of the Harris County Public Health Office of Communications, Education, and Engagement. Ms. Perez was a Public Health and Communication Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Obama Administration where she managed the public engagement platform for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of Minority Health. Prior to working at HHS, she worked at the National Coalition of Health Care, a think tank for Affordable Care Act advocacy.

Ms. Perez came into the public health arena after a decade working in southern California’s healthcare sector on quality improvement in patient care and health policy. Originally from California, she received her Bachelor's in Radiation Sciences, with an emphasis in health administration and research, and a Master's in Public Health in Health Policy and Leadership from Loma Linda University.

Contact and Connect

Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, Washington 98504-7890

360-790-9326

Elizabeth.Perez@doh.wa.gov

For media inquiries, contact the media relations team.

Kristin Peterson

Kristin Peterson, JD

Deputy Secretary for Policy and Planning

The Deputy Secretary for Policy and Planning leads and oversees a team focused on policy development, implementation and evaluation.

Ms. Peterson has experience leading government relations and policy work with a career focused on health care law and policy. She has worked for elected officials at the state and federal level, for a health care focused trade association, and for a boutique law firm focused on health care clients. She thrives on building collaborative relationships and emphasizes partner engagement as a critical component to identifying challenges and solutions that promote optimal health for all.

She graduated from the Evergreen State College and the University of Washington School of Law.

Contact and Connect

Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, Washington 98504-7890

360-236-4030

Kristin.Peterson@doh.wa.gov

For media inquiries, contact the media relations team.

Nate Weed

Nate Weed

Deputy Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response (Acting)

The Acting Deputy Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response statewide leadership for the ongoing development of public health and medical emergency response capabilities and community resilience and leads emergency response teams.

Mr. Weed holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wyoming and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Additionally, he is a certified Incident Command and Crisis Leadership trainer and a graduate of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and the Northwest Public Health Leadership Institute at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Throughout his career, he worked in local, state, and federal public health roles leading emergency response teams in many emergencies including the COVID-19 pandemic, the H1N1 pandemic, wildland fires, mass casualty incidents, environmental health events, West Nile Virus and St. Louis encephalitis outbreaks, foodborne and waterborne illness outbreaks, and multiple Gulf Coastal hurricanes including Hurricanes Katrina and Maria.

Contact and Connect

Washington State Department of Health
P.O. Box 47890
Olympia, Washington 98504-7890

360-480-0308

Nathan.weed@doh.wa.gov

For media inquiries, contact the media relations team.