Press Room

Rhode Island Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Named ASTHO President

ARLINGTON, VA (Sept. 27, 2018)—The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) announced the appointment today of Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, as ASTHO’s new president, effective Sept. 27.

“I am incredibly excited to serve as president of this amazing organization and to have an opportunity to collaborate with so many talented and dedicated public health leaders,” says Dr. Alexander-Scott. “I look forward to working with states and territories to help address the many public health challenges we face today, so we can ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to be as healthy as possible, and to live in as healthy a community as possible, no matter what you look like, what you sound like, or where you live.” 

Dr. Alexander-Scott has served as director of the Rhode Island Department of Health since April 2015. She is the first African-American individual to serve as Rhode Island’s top health official. She was elected ASTHO president-elect in September 2017. During her career, Dr. Alexander-Scott worked as a specialist in infectious diseases for children and adults, previously an associate professor of pediatrics, medicine, and public health (with a focus on health services, policy, and practice) at Brown University. She is board certified in pediatrics, internal medicine, pediatric infectious diseases, and adult infectious diseases. 

In Rhode Island, Dr. Alexander-Scott has made it a priority to address health equity, with the conviction that every person and every community should have an equal opportunity to be as healthy as possible. She has emerged as a leading voice committed to addressing community-level determinants of health, such as education, housing, transportation, and employment, so that a person's health does not depend on their ZIP code.

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Alexander-Scott attended Cornell University, majoring in human development and family studies. She subsequently graduated from SUNY Upstate Medical University at Syracuse in 2011. After completing a combined internal medicine-pediatrics residency at SUNY Stony Brook University Hospital in 2005, Dr. Alexander-Scott finished a four-year combined fellowship in adult and pediatric infectious diseases at Brown in 2009. She holds a master’s degree in public health from Brown University.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Alexander-Scott serve as our new president. Her experience addressing the social determinants of health in Rhode Island has been a true inspiration for all of us who work in public health,” says Michael Fraser, chief executive officer of ASTHO. “We look forward to her continued work in this area with this year’s ASTHO President’s Challenge, ‘Building Healthy and Resilient Communities.’ In public health, we often talk about moving upstream and addressing health disparities. Nicole’s tremendous leadership at the Rhode Island Department of Health really exemplifies what is meant by this. I look forward to working with and learning from Nicole in the year ahead.”

Nate Smith, director of the Arkansas 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.