Beginning Dec. 21, Umair Shah, MD, MPH, will be Washington’s new secretary of health, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Nov. 17.

He replaces John Wiesman, DrPH, MPH, who will join the faculty at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Shah currently serves as executive director and local health authority for Harris County, TX, which includes Houston. In 2017, he served as a president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). In 2019, he was awarded the Roemer Prize for Creative Local Public Health Work from the American Public Health Association.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of Toledo Health Science Center, Shah also has a master’s in public health from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

“Dr. Shah brings an unrivaled expertise, knowledge and passion for public health,” Inslee said in a press release announcing the move. “His leadership will help us lead Washington state through the next crucial phase of this pandemic. He is uniquely suited to continue our nation-leading response. An immigrant, originally from Pakistan and raised in Ohio, equity is incorporated and considered in every decision as he leads organizations to ensure the health and safety of everyone.”

“I am beyond honored to be asked by Governor Inslee to serve as Washington’s next secretary of health, building onto the dedicated team and strong leadership championed by John Wiesman at the Department of Health,” Shah said. “Without question, the number one priority for me is to work with the team to continue the fight against COVID-19 and help Washingtonians through these challenging times.”