About Austin Public Health
Everyday in every part of our community, public health protects Austin and Travis County residents from infectious diseases and environmental threats and educates us about the benefits of healthful behaviors in avoiding chronic diseases.
- Services to help people meet needs across the lifespan, such as immunizations, shelter, food, clothing, and job assistance.
- Screenings for blood pressure, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.
- Nutritional support through the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC).
- Birth and death certificates.
- Inspection and permitting of restaurants and food establishments.
- Outreach and education on topics such as diabetes, tobacco cessation, mother-friendly workplaces, and injury prevention.
- Emergency preparedness programs to help people in need during and after natural and man-made disasters.
Austin Public Health is accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). This milestone is official recognition that Austin Public Health meets or exceeds the rigorous public health standards established by the non-profit, non-governmental PHAB. Jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, PHAB sets standards against which public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. Our department is the third public health department in the state to receive accreditation. To learn more about public health accreditation, visit the PHAB website.
Everyone will have an optimal quality of life, health and well-being free from racism, poverty and oppression.
To prevent disease, promote health, and protect the well-being of all.
- Prevent illness, injury, and disease;
- Promote community-wide wellness, preparedness, resiliency, and self-sufficiency;
- Protect the community from environmental and health hazards; and
- Strengthen collaborations and build new partnerships to advance health in all policies.
Updated information about Austin Public Health's Vision, Mission, and Goals can be found in Austin Public Health’s Strategic Plan Status Report and in Austin Public Health's Strategic Plan.
Austin Public Health staff work to ensure that the community is protected from disease and other public health threats, and to empower others to live healthier, safer lives. In addition, staff are expected to meet departmental competencies in the following areas:
- Equity and Fairness: Interact with clients, community partners and co-workers with fairness and equity and deliver services free of bias or prejudice.
- Continuous Quality Improvement: Establish and maintain organizational capacity and resources to support continuous quality improvement.
- Public Health Practice/Evidence-Based: Contribute to the advancement of the evidence base of public health and use credible science as the foundation of our policies and procedures.
- Occupational Health and Safety: Follow all safety rules, proactively work to prevent accidents, and encourage the use of sound judgment in order to comply with departmental and city occupational safety regulations.
- Emergency Preparedness: Promptly identify and respond to public health threats and priorities which may involve working outside of day-to-day tasks.
Who We Are
- Director Adrienne Sturrup
Adrienne Sturrup was appointed Director in January 2022. She served as Interim Director after being appointed to the position in April of 2021.
Sturrup had previously served as Assistant Director over the Health Equity and Community Engagement Division since October 2018. The Health Equity and Community Engagement Division includes management of the Health Equity Quality of Life programs, HIV Planning Council, HIV Resources Administration, Planning and Evaluation, and Social Services Policy.
Adrienne joined Austin Public Health in 2014 as Program Manager for the Health Equity Unit, formerly the African American Quality of Life Unit (AAQL). Her efforts have contributed to the Department's strategic priority of Health Equity programming.
Adrienne assisted with the development of the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Materials (CLAMS) policy and e-learning series, and currently is co-lead for the Health Equity Action Team. Adrienne also represents the department on the City's Equity Action Team. Led by the City's Equity Officer, the team works with City staff and community members to develop an Equity Assessment Tool for future use by all City departments.
Adrienne has more than 25 years experience in non-profit organizations working to promote health and wellness in community settings. She began her professional career with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, initially as the Truancy Prevention Program Coordinator, and then became Teen Director in charge of all youth development activities for the Roxbury Clubhouse. Then, as the first Youth Development Director for the YMCA of Boston, she modeled the implementation of Youth and Teen programs in more than 16 YMCAs across Greater Boston. She served as the Executive DIrector in the YMCA system for 11 years, leading branches in Rhode Island and Austin.
Adrienne holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication with a concentration in non-profit marketing from Boston University.
- Medical Director and Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes
Dr. Walkes joined the Austin Public Health team as the Medical Director and Health Authority for Austin /Travis County, Texas in May 2021. She formerly served as the Health Authority for Bastrop County for 13 years.
Dr. Walkes has over 30 years of experience in clinical medicine as well as having traveled to various parts of Central and South America, Asia and Africa as a medical missionary. Her journey has allowed her to serve as the Chief of Staff and Director of Quality Assurance Smithville’s rural hospital.
Dr. Walkes completed her medical training at the University of Texas Medical Branch and did her internship at Baylor College of Medicine. Her approach to patient care is holistic and addresses the complexities of chronic medical conditions from an evidence-based lens while addressing the impact of lifestyle including diet, exercise and sleep and access issues.
During her multispecialty JACHO accredited outpatient practice, she founded a clinic for the underinsured and uninsured in Bastrop. She has tirelessly worked with Bastrop County Cares on county wide initiatives to start the Family Connects and most recently partnered with Bastrop County Cares delivering 38,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine to the community with the help of volunteers.
Dr. Walkes has observed and worked to correct inequity through her career and is committed to work towards a system wide training to mitigate the effects of racism, microaggression’s and foster recovery as we move on from this pandemic.
Dr. Walkes looks forward to maintaining existing APH relationships and collaborations while ensuring that healthcare delivery and wellness services are available to all residents in the Austin/Travis County communities.
- Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette
Janet Pichette serves as the Chief Epidemiologist and leads the Epidemiology and Public Health Preparedness Division, which includes Epidemiology, Public Health Preparedness, BioWatch, and the Office of Vital Records.
Janet received her B.S. degree in Health Education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, an M.S. in Health Research focusing on epidemiology from Texas State University, and a Public Health Informatics Certificate from the University of Texas at Austin.
Janet has 32 years of public health experience. Prior to joining the City of Austin, Janet worked as an epidemiologist for the State of Texas for 18 years including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Department of Health (TDH). Her work focused on health studies and disease surveillance activities defining the epidemiology of occupational diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases and other environmental health problems, toxicology and risk assessment, policy development, and strategic planning.
- Assistant Director, Health Equity and Community Engagement Laura G. La Fuente
Laura G. La Fuente was named the Assistant Director for the Health Equity and Community Engagement Division in June of 2022, after serving as interim assistant director since May of 2021. This division includes management of the Health Equity Quality of Life programs, HIV Planning Council, HIV Resources Administration, Planning and Evaluation of department and community initiatives, the Office of Violence Prevention and over $50M in Social Services funding.
She was formerly a Public Health Program Manager responsible for the management of over $31M in social services contracts. These investments helped low-income individuals access critically needed services for a better quality of life and self-sufficiency. Ms. La Fuente was previously responsible for the oversight of the department’s federally funded projects to enhance the quality, access, and the cost effectiveness of the care provided. Through these projects, the department provides intensive support services for chronically homeless individuals, health education and targeted support for new moms and diabetes self-management education to individuals living with diabetes.
Prior to working for Austin Public Health, Laura worked with community stakeholders to develop and implement innovative programs to positively impact school aged youth. Through her collaborative work with school districts and nonprofits, Laura designed an initiative to increase the number of volunteers working with youth, developed a quality improvement system for out of school programs and invested in strategies to support student achievement.
Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago and a Master’s in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
- Assistant Director, Community Services Donna Sundstrom
Donna Sundstrom has served as the Assistant Director for the Community Services Division since September 2016. She is responsible for the department's community service programs.
These programs include Austin Youth Development, Austin Healthy Adolescent Program, Community Youth Development, Day Labor, Early Childhood, Healthy Texas Babies, Neighborhood Services, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
Donna has spent the last 23 years of her professional career focusing on maternal and child health. Prior to her current position, Donna served as the Manager (Director) for the department’s WIC Program for 11 years. She was active in the Texas Association of Local WIC Directors, serving on the Board for over 11 years, and the National WIC Association. In 2015, she received the Art Fuston Award from the Texas Association of Local WIC Directors. Before her tenure with the City of Austin, she was with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the City of San Marcos. Donna holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Scientific Nutrition from Texas A&M University.
- Division Chief, Environmental Health Services Division Marcel Elizondo, R.S.
Marcel Elizondo, R.S. was appointed Division Chief of the Environmental Health Services Division in March of 2023.
As Division Chief, Mr. Elizondo leads the department's Environmental Health Services Programs: Consumer Health Protection, Environmental Health, Customer Service, Court Compliance, Smoking in Public Places, Rodent/Vector Control, Travis County/Interlocal Contracts, Building Plan Review and One-Time Building Inspections.
Mr. Elizondo has been with Austin Public Health since April of 2003 and served in multiple roles of Environmental Health Officer positions. Previously, he served as Environmental Health Officer, Environmental Health Officer Senior, Environmental Health Supervisor and most recently as Public Health Program Manager of Environmental Health Services operations. Mr. Elizondo also served as a state Standardized Training Officer for Austin/Travis County.
In addition to his expertise overseeing Environmental Health Programs, Marcel has experience in the administration of: inspection programs; City Council and board/commission support, interlocal agreements, State regulation enforcement and legislative review, stakeholder relationships, applied technology solutions, media relations, and customer service initiatives.
Mr. Elizondo holds a Master of Public Health degree from the Texas A&M School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
- Assistant Director, Disease Prevention Health Promotion Cassandra DeLeon
Cassandra DeLeon has served as Assistant Director of Disease Prevention Health Promotion since October 2022.
Cassandra DeLeon has 26 years of public health programming experience with 16 years in management. She has held positions at the Department of State Health Services, Texas State University, Health and Human Services Region 8, and is currently the Chief Administrative Officer within Austin Public Health overseeing the Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division.
In her career she has overseen core public health programs and services including immunizations, chronic disease, injury prevention, HIV, sexual health, and tuberculosis.
Throughout the current COVID-19 public health emergency, she has held leadership roles in the incident command structure, and organized community partners to inform response plans including leading mass vaccine efforts.
She also has significant experience engaging with local coalitions and community stakeholders on policy issues, strategic planning, community needs assessment, and public health improvement planning.
- Interim Assistant Director, Administrative Services Saeed Azadi
Saeed Azadi has served as Interim Assistant Director of Administrative Services since January 2024. He is responsible for the department’s Budget, Accounting, Facilities Management, and Information Technology units.
With over 18 years of experience at APH, Saeed has held various management positions, including Public Health Division Manager, Public Health Program Manager, and Program Supervisor.
In his prior role, Saeed served 10 years as Division Manager for Communicable Diseases, leading a Unit of 90 employees across various programs, including 3 Public Health Clinics, 2 Public Health Investigation programs, 2 Outreach programs, and a Social Services program.
Before joining APH, he gained valuable insights in the private healthcare sector at Seton Healthcare Network.
Saeed’s expertise spans organizational and operations management, strategic planning, change management, and exceptional customer experience. Under his leadership, RBJ Clinics consistently received "excellent" customer reviews, and achieved a leader designation on the Healthcare Equality Index.
Saeed holds an M.B.A. from Texas State University and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management.
Committed to public service and the APH mission and values, he is dedicated to serving our community through our organization and shaping a resilient and responsive public health system for the future.
- Public Information and Marketing Manager Jen Samp
Jen Samp has been the Public Information and Marketing Manager for Austin Public Health since April 2019.