Press Room

ASTHO Recognizes Georgia’s Public Health Champions

ARLINGTON, VA (June 15, 2017)— The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) is honoring 15 Georgians who are world-renowned public health leaders during an event today hosted by Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, and supported in part by the Healthcare Georgia Foundation and the CDC Foundation. Each of these outstanding “Georgia Giants in Public Health” honorees is being recognized for their leadership and dedication to improving the lives and well-being of not just communities in Georgia, but across the nation and around the world.

“I am not sure every Georgian knows the rich history of public health that Atlanta has served to nurture, but they should be proud of Georgia today,” says Michael Fraser, ASTHO’s executive director. “This state is home to leaders that helped end smallpox, eradicated Guinea worm, developed the national strategy to control HIV/AIDS, cut tobacco use to record lows, reduced health disparities, and established global immunization programs. In short, the work of these committed Georgia Giants has improved the lives of millions—even billions—worldwide. For that, our nation is truly grateful and our leaders are here today in Atlanta to share our thanks and recognize Georgia’s many contributions to public health.”

As ASTHO celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, we reflect on how Atlanta-based institutions like the CDC have shaped generations of public health leaders, contributing to ASTHO’s legacy and commitment to advancing the important work of public health. The Georgia’s Giants in Public Health awards honor transformational state and territorial government leaders and alumni, along with those working at the federal level and with non-governmental organizations to protect and promote our nation’s health.

The Georgia Giants in Public Health honorees include:

  • Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.
  • James W. Curran, MD, MPH, for his many contributions to disease prevention and epidemiology, as well as his leadership in the field of HIV/AIDS research and outreach.
  • Michael P. Eriksen, ScD, for his contributions to tobacco control, social and behavioral science, and urban and global health.
  • Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, for her leadership as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, directing the state’s 18 public health districts and 159 county health departments.
  • William H. Foege, MD, MPH, for his many achievements as a champion of child survival and development, as well as contributions to domestic and international health policies, disease eradication and control, and reducing the impact of smallpox.
  • Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, for his numerous achievements in a career dedicated to public health, including leadership as CDC director.
  • Jeffrey P. Koplan, MD, MPH, for his many achievements in epidemic intelligence and infectious disease.
  • Judith Monroe, MD, for her many contributions and continued focus on strengthening public-private partnerships, as well as her leadership as chief executive officer of the CDC Foundation, director of CDC’s Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, and her service as a state health official in Indiana and president of ASTHO.
  • Gary Nelson, PhD, for his many contributions to health improvement and healthy aging, as well as his leadership in cancer prevention and control.
  • David A. Ross, ScD, for his pioneering career in public health informatics, as well as his leadership as chief executive officer for the Task Force for Global Health and director of the Public Health Informatics Institute.
  • David Satcher, MD, PhD, for a career dedicated to public health, including numerous contributions in disease prevention and multicultural health disparities, and leadership as the 16th Surgeon General of the United States, assistant secretary for health at HHS, and CDC director.
  • C. Wade Sellers, MD, MPH, for his distinguished public health career, as well as the career of his grandfather, Thomas Fort Sellers, who served as director of the Georgia Department of Public Health from 1948 to 1960, where he developed the tool for rapid diagnosis of rabies.
  • Louis W. Sullivan, MD, for his efforts to enhance health literacy and advance healthy behaviors, as well as his leadership as the 17th HHS secretary and founding dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine.
  • Phillip L. Williams, PhD, for his many achievements in research and toxicology, as well as his leadership as founding dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia.

“It is truly wonderful to have an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Georgia’s public health champions,” says Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health and ASTHO’s president-elect. “The men and women honored here inspire us all as they continue to transform public health. I am privileged to serve as the public health commissioner in a state with such incredible resources and leadership.”


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.