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September 21, 2015

Who wants my job?

This could be you!

As many of my readers already know, next year I will be transitioning to take on the role of President/CEO at PHII’s parent organization, the Task Force for Global Health. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to oversee the workings of not just PHII, but other Task Force programs like Children without Worms, the International Trachoma Initiative and the Center for Vaccine Equity. The next few years are going to be key in the global health arena, and I’m honored to be at the helm of this extraordinary nonprofit whose work impacts millions of people in 135 different countries around the world. So this brings me to a crucial question:

Who wants my job?

The job posting for the director of PHII summarizes many of the qualifications you’d expect to be required for this position, including an ability to forge strong relationships with partners and funders—a  business skill needed to run today’s Institute—a strong public health background and at least 10 years of experience at a senior leadership level. But I wanted to talk a little bit about what kind of person the new PHII director will need to be to help this remarkable organization continue to succeed. Consider this statement as my personal ad: “growing nonprofit seeks visionary leader for long, romantic walks on emergent data frontiers.”

First, the future director of PHII will need to protect the organization’s assets. One of PHII’s greatest assets is its connections and partnerships across the public health and informatics spheres. The new director will need to maintain these essential connections and work from the ground up with new state and local agencies to build lasting partnerships from scratch. Trusted inter-agency collaborative relationships are the foundation of our work.

Another of PHII’s greatest assets (and one we’ve worked hard to cultivate) is our role as a trusted and neutral third party. The new director needs to maintain our position of trust within public health and ensure we continue to meet the standards we’ve set for ourselves. As part of this role, PHII has the responsibility to promote the importance of information in public health and be an advocate for informatics. Our new director must take up that banner and be willing to champion that cause.

Second, he or she will need a deep and genuine respect for the people who do the real work of public health. The constitutionality of public health grants agencies full autonomy on a state level, and anyone stepping into this role must respect the authority and experience of each individual agency. I would hope that any future director of PHII has a realistic, big-picture outlook on the public health system and how the moving parts of that system come together.

Third, the new leader needs to be comfortable with constant flux and have a finger on the pulse of the public health and health IT arenas. A purely academic perspective isn’t ideal; PHII will need someone at the helm who understands both the business side of nonprofits and the collaboration process. This person needs to be willing to get down into the weeds.

Last, PHII’s culture is collaborative and close-knit. PHII needs a leader willing to foster that atmosphere and be a part of that culture.

So… do you want to be the next director of the Public Health Informatics Institute?

David A. Ross, ScD

President/CEO of the Task Force for Global Health, former director of PHII