Press Room

ASTHO Executive Director Announces New Role at the March of Dimes

(Oct. 2, 2015) Arlington, VA – Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) Executive Director Paul E. Jarris, MD, MBA, has announced that he is stepping down at the end of this year. Jarris will assume a new Senior Vice President and Deputy Medical Officer role at the March of Dimes, effective Jan. 25, 2016.

Dr. Jarris has served as ASTHO’s Executive Director for the past nine years, where he transformed ASTHO to become a premier institution vital to promoting and safeguarding health and wellness across the United States and territories. Under his guidance, ASTHO has become a leader in public health systems and services research and the authoritative source of information on state and territorial public health.

At the March of Dimes, Jarris will lead a new Maternal and Child Health Program Impact department. He will have overall responsibility for the March of Dimes’ Prematurity Campaign, which addresses health equity and seeks to reduce the rate of preterm birth—a leading cause of death among babies in the United States.

Jarris is passionate about children’s health. A notable achievement as Executive Director of ASTHO was his aligning the efforts of ASTHO and the March of Dimes to challenge states to lower their preterm birth rates. Together with David Lakey, MD, former ASTHO President and now at the University of Texas, they championed the 2012 ASTHO President’s Challenge on Healthy Babies. After years of climbing prematurity rates, the trend has reversed. This contribution has helped save thousands of lives and improved the health of many more infants.

“I am excited to be joining the March of Dimes, an organization that has had as great an impact on public health as any organization in this country and around the world,” says Jarris. “Some of my most gratifying work at ASTHO were the partnerships we were able to build between state health agencies and the March of Dimes. I look forward to continuing this work. We have already made tremendous gains. Now is the time to seize that momentum and ensure that all moms and babies have the best chance possible for a healthy start to life.”

Under Jarris’ leadership, ASTHO became integral to the national public health preparedness and response system. During the influenza H1N1 pandemic and Ebola emergency, ASTHO was key in representing state health interests to federal agencies, providing guidance and consistent risk information for the states, facilitating partnerships with the provider community, and helping negotiate ready availability of pandemic vaccine at chain pharmacies nationwide.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health and ASTHO President Edward Ehlinger, MD, MSPH, remarked, “Paul Jarris helped elevate ASTHO to a true leadership position in America’s public health community. He now will be bringing his skills to the March of Dimes. I thank him for his numerous contributions to state and territorial public health and I look forward to working with him to improve the health of America’s mothers and babies.”

During Jarris’ tenure, ASTHO expanded its staff from 45 to 110 and budget from 9 million to 30 million. ASTHO was recognized as a top-50 employer in the Washington, DC area by Washingtonian Magazine in 2013.

Jarris is a recipient of numerous awards, including the American Academy of Family Physicians 2014 Public Health Award and has authored or co-authored over 50 publications. Prior to his appointment at ASTHO, he served as Commissioner of Health at the Vermont Department of Health from 2003 to 2006.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in state-based public health practice.