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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.

We offer: 

  • 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.

Accreditation: Logo showing Accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board

In May 2016, our department earned national accreditation from 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.

Vision: 

Everyone will have an optimal quality of life, health and well-being.

Mission:

To prevent disease, promote health, and protect the well-being of all.

Core Purpose:

  • 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.

More information about Austin Public Health's Vision, Mission, and Core Purpose can be found in Austin Public Health's Strategic Plan.

Departmental Competencies:

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

AdAdrienne 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 Desmar Walkes

Dr. Desmar WalkesDr. Walkes has served as the Medical Director and Health Authority for Austin Public Health since May 2021. 

Dr. Walkes has 33 years of experience in health care as a family practitioner, medical authority, medical director, and in administrative medicine. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with honors from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada and her Medical Doctor degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. Dr. Walkes completed a surgical internship at Baylor College of Medicine and, for many years, has participated in medical mission trips to Central and South America, Asia, and Africa. 

Dr. Walkes previously served as the Local Health Authority for Bastrop County, Texas, a position she held since 2007. She has been the point person for the Bastrop’s COVID-19 pandemic response and vaccine distribution, participating in regular meetings with elected officials, State of Texas Public Health officials, schools, nursing homes, businesses, and residents. She has been a part of Bastrop’s Emergency Operations Center and has given numerous presentations and comments to the media. In addition, she served as the director of a multi-specialty outpatient clinic accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JACHO).

Throughout her career Dr. Walkes has served on a wide variety of Advisory Boards including:

  • Board Chair of the Texas Medical Partners for Violence Free Communities
  • Central Texas Coalition for Indigent Healthcare Committee
  • President of the Board of Directors for the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry
  • The Secretary of Health and Human Services Task Force for the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer
  • Community Advisory Board for the Metropolitan DC Response for the Women’s Interagency HIV Study
  • Advisory Board Member to Emergency and Resource Center for the Homeless
  • Early Childhood Advisory Chair – Bastrop County
  • National Sleep Foundation Board Member

Board Chair of the Texas Medical Partners for Violence Free Communities Central Texas Coalition for Indigent Healthcare Committee President of the Board of Directors for the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry

Dr. Walkes also received several awards throughout her career including the Point of Light Award for the Lincoln Clinic from the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce, the Woman of the Year 2000 Award from the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce, the President’s Award from the Barbados Association of Greater Houston, and the Unsung Heroes Award from the Congressional Black Caucus.

Dr. Walkes received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with honors from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. Dr. Walkes completed a surgical internship at Baylor College of Medicine.

Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette

Janet PichetteJanet 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.

Interim Assistant Director, Health Equity and Community Engagement Laura LaFuente

Laura LaFuenteSince May of 2021, Laura G. La Fuente has served as the interim Assistant Director for the Health Equity and Community Engagement Division.  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 also 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, Administrative Support Services Kymberley Maddox

Kymberley MaddoxKymberley Maddox serves as the Assistant Director for Administrative Support Services since October 2015. She formerly was Chief Administrative Officer.

She is responsible for support services in the areas of Contract Management, Records Management, Information Systems, Human Resources, Budget and Analysis, and Accounting,

Prior to joining Austin Public Health in November 2010, Kymberley spent 15 years providing public sector leadership and management for a variety of State of Texas agencies including the Texas Comptroller, Texas Legislative Budget Board, and Texas Health and Human Services Commission.  She holds a Master's degree in Public Administration from Texas Tech University.

Assistant Director, Community Services Donna Sundstrom

Donna SundstromDonna 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.

Interim Assistant Director, Environmental Health Services Division Marcel Elizondo, R.S.  

Marcel ElizondoMarcel Elizondo, R.S. was appointed Interim Assistant Director of the Environmental Health Services Division in August of 2021.

As Interim Assistant Director, 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.

Public Information and Marketing Manager Jen Samp

Jen Samp has been the Public Information and Marketing Manager for Austin Public Health since April 2019.