Press Room

Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Nate Smith Named ASTHO President

BETHESDA, MD (Sept. 25, 2019)—The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) announced the appointment today of Nate Smith, MD, MPH, secretary of health at the Arkansas Department of Health, as ASTHO’s new president, effective Sept. 25.

“I’m thrilled to serve as president and look forward to working hard to ensure that everyone has the access and ability to be healthy,” says Dr. Smith. “I look forward supporting my colleagues at the federal, state, and local levels to address the many public health challenges and opportunities affecting the United States.”

Dr. Smith has served as Arkansas’ state health official since 2013, where he provides senior scientific and executive leadership and strives to help colleagues achieve their full potential using public health best practices supported by science-based decisions. Dr. Smith previously served the Arkansas Department of Health as branch chief for infectious diseases, state epidemiologist, and deputy director for public health programs. He is board certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases and holds voluntary faculty positions in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine and in the Epidemiology department at UAMS’ Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health. He was elected president-elect of ASTHO in September 2018.

Born in Massachusetts, Dr. Smith lived in multiple countries and U.S. cities before attending Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of Texas School of Public Health. He is also an ordained minister in the Anglican Church. Dr. Smith and his wife, Kim, served two terms as medical missionaries at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya, where he was involved with the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a program that reduced the adult HIV prevalence from over 10 percent to less than 6 percent. In Kenya, Dr. Smith’s roles included chief of internal medicine, medical intern program director, infectious diseases consultant, country medical director for the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Kenya, and senior medical technical advisor for the AIDSRelief program in East Africa.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Smith as our new president,” says ASTHO Chief Executive Officer Michael Fraser. “His impressive background in infectious disease demonstrates an expertise that will be crucial to facing the threat of antimicrobial resistance in the United States. His compassion, public health insights, and wealth of medical and scientific knowledge, sharpened during his work abroad and in his service to the state of Arkansas, will be truly valuable assets as the nation contends with public health emergencies like the ongoing opioid crisis. I know that Dr. Smith will move our organization—and public health—forward in the year to come.”

Rachel Levine, MD, secretary of health at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, will serve as ASTHO president-elect.


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