Press Room

ASTHO Statement on Resignation of CDC Director

ARLINGTON, VA (Jan. 31, 2018)—The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) president and executive director issued the following statements in response to the announcement on the resignation of CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald:

“We respect Dr. Fitzgerald’s decision to step down from her role as CDC director and understand the difficult choice she had to make,” says Michael Fraser, executive director of ASTHO. “While her tenure was a brief six months, Dr. Fitzgerald created momentum for improving the health of our nation, specifically around her agency’s role in fighting infectious disease and promoting health security, addressing the opioid epidemic, combating this year’s deadly flu season, and bringing a public health perspective to early childhood development in a new way for CDC. ASTHO stands ready to support the future CDC director, whom we hope has the same depth of experience in leading a state, local, or territorial public health agency. It is also our hope that a new director will continue to value state and territorial public health leaders as primary partners in the implementation of CDC’s work. We know these kinds of changes can be disruptive to an agency that is already underfunded and works around the clock to protect us from our nation’s gravest health threats.”

“As public health officials, we uniquely understand that the role of CDC director is critical to protecting and promoting the health and well-being of the American people above all other interests,” says John Wiesman, ASTHO’s president and secretary of health at the Washington State Department of Health. “We hold Dr. Fitzgerald in great esteem for her many contributions as Georgia’s health commissioner, where she spearheaded efforts to reduce childhood obesity and promote early brain development, laying the foundation to help people enjoy longer and healthier lives. We accept her decision to step down, and we look forward to working closely with CDC’s next director to continue advancing the work of our nation’s top public health agency.”  

ASTHO is supportive of HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s announcement of Anne Schuchat as the interim CDC Director. “Dr. Schuchat’s experience working in the field and at CDC headquarters gives her the perspective one needs to understand the breadth, scope, and importance of the agency,” Fraser says. “We look forward to working with her during her tenure as interim director.”


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, 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 public health practice.