Leadership
Dr. Umair Shah, MD, MPH <br /> <small>Executive Director</small> Dr. Umair Shah, MD, MPH
Executive Director

Biosketch Long | Short 

 Welcome to Harris County Public Health - Harris County community members!

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to Harris County Public Health (HCPH), the county health department for Harris County (TX) – the 3rd most populous county in the U.S., one of the fastest growing, and home to Houston (4th largest city).

We are busy and diverse in every way imaginable. Our agency is made up of over 700 public health professionals who are proud and passionate of the work they do, and are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Harris County residents and the communities in which we live.

HCPH has an annual budget of close to $100 million with a mix of federal, state, and local funding dollars. Harris County Commissioners Court reviews and approves the budget for HCPH.

So what is public health?

Public health has been defined by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) as “what we as a society do collectively to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy.”

This means that public health is concerned not only with what happens within the healthcare system (that is, in hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms, etc.) but also what occurs outside of the healthcare system - in the community.

In fact, much of what helps determine the health of our community relates to activities happening where people live, learn, work, worship and play. It is about what happens in the community including those factors such as education, socio-economic status, housing, transportation, and environment to name a few.

Moving forward . . .

While many of these factors may not directly be considered a part of public health, increasingly these factors are seen as what drive health. They are all pieces to the larger puzzle of what shapes our community’s health and thus important to our efforts. We are equally committed to achieving health equity – the best health possible for ALL of our residents.

I hope you will find our website useful (we are continuing to make improvements for our viewers!). It provides information to help promote your health, the health of those around you, and the health of OUR community. We are all in this together!

Indeed, we have a fantastic community in Harris County, yet challenges remain – please join us in our goal to make Harris County the healthiest community possible!

Best,

Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH
@ushahmd

Les Becker, MBA <br /> <small>Deputy Director/Director - Operations & Finance Division</small> Les Becker, MBA
Deputy Director/Director - Operations & Finance Division

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Welcome to the Operations and Finance Division!

There are many areas of expertise in the Operations and Finance (Ops and Fin) Division. On a daily basis the employees of Ops & Fin are responsible for hundreds of critical functions such as making sure the servers, applications, and computers work for over 500 employees. Our employees handle, oversee, and support over $60M in budget and expenses, maintain and deliver supplies to 20+ work sites, and process time sheets and human resource paperwork for all employees. However, our real value comes through when we engage, advance, and safeguard Harris County Public Health (HCPH) employees by providing quality support services and stewardship through our talented people, defined processes and commitment to innovation.

Ops and Fin is a division that provides services that allow the other divisions and offices within HCPH to focus on what they do best – creating “Healthy people, Healthy communities, a Healthy Harris County”.

For more information about the Ops and Fin division, please call (713) 439-6000.

Brian Reed, MD<br> <small>Director - Disease Control &amp; Clinical Prevention</small> Brian Reed, MD
Director - Disease Control & Clinical Prevention

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Welcome to the Disease Control and Clinical Prevention Division!

Harris County, Texas, the community we call home, continues to be among the fastest growing areas of the nation - in population, job creation, and economic opportunity. With this progress comes the responsibility to make sure our community is an excellent place to live, work, and raise a family.

The Disease Control and Clinical Prevention (DCCP) division includes a wide range of clinical and prevention activities. We provide immunizations, family planning services, child dental services, TB programs, HIV-related services, refugee health screening, and other services. We also watch disease trends, work to reduce preventable illness and injury, and promote healthy lifestyles that can decrease chronic disease.

The division includes over 300 public health professionals. They are from a variety of health care backgrounds, and they give their best to achieve our mission to promote, prevent, and protect.

We bring knowledge and guidance as a public health department. Our real success, however, depends on our connection with people, families, and organizations throughout Harris County. Together, we will meet future challenges and build the healthiest community possible.

For more information about the Disease Control & Clinical Prevention, please call (713) 439-6000.

 


Dr. Brian C. Reed, joined Harris County Public Health as Division Director for Disease Control and Clinical Prevention in November 2016. Prior to joining HCPH, Dr. Reed served as the Vice Chair for Community Health Program within the Department of Family & Community Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and the Assistant Chief of Staff for Harris Health System’s Ambulatory Care Services for the last nine years. He was also the Interim Department Chairman from November 2012 until March 2014. During his time at Baylor, Dr. Reed helped to coordinate the work of some 100 physicians and 10 medical directors to establish patient-centered medical homes for underserved patients. He worked in collaboration with a variety of community-based organizations including Harris Health System, Harris County Public Health, The Harris Center for IDD & Mental Health, El Centro de Corazon and Santa Maria Hostel and played an important role in providing care in underserved areas.

Dr. Reed has been recognized as an outstanding educator in both the medical students and residency programs and received the Leonard D. Moises Teaching Award in 2008. He received his medical degree from University of Michigan Medical School and completed his residency training at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.


Mustapha Debboun, PhD, BCE<br /><small>Director - Mosquito & Vector Control</small> Mustapha Debboun, PhD, BCE
Director - Mosquito & Vector Control

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Welcome to the Mosquito and Vector Control Division!

The Mosquito Control District (MCD) was established by a county wide election in November 1964. This action was in response to a Saint Louis Encephalitis (SLE) outbreak that occurred earlier that year. In 1995, it became a division of the Harris County Health Department, later renamed Harris County Public Health (HCPH). When the District became active in 1965, it was primarily involved in the prevention and control of SLE. With the introduction of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Harris County in 2002, WNV quickly became the primary disease of concern.

Mosquito Control conducts operations in all of Harris County, which encompasses approximately 1,780 square miles with ~4.1 million residents. The foundation of the program has been established upon Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles. IPM is “the artful management of pests in the best interests of humans in terms of their health, economy, and overall quality of their environment using systems of integrated natural and applied control tactics”. Key components of IPM include mosquito/bird surveillance/diagnostics, Geographical Information System technology, insecticide resistance surveillance/management, innovative applied research, and education. IPM is also key in complying with governmental rules and regulations. Currently, HCPH only sprays for pest mosquitoes during a declared emergency response effort.

Throughout the years, Mosquito Control has developed strong partnerships with agencies such as the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas A&M University, Texas Department of State Health Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more recently with Baylor’s National School of Tropical Medicine. Mosquito Control worked with the Houston Museum of Natural Science; an exhibit featuring local mosquito species collected by the staff has been displayed since 2007.

Mission Statement

HCPH Mosquito & Vector Control Division protects the health and well-being of county residents through surveillance, control, education, research, and technology to prevent and control mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus (WNV) and St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE).

For more information about Mosquito Control, please call (713) 440-4795 


Dr. Debboun joined Harris County Public Health (HCPH) as the Director of Mosquito Control Division on July 1, 2014. Dr. Debboun recently retired as Colonel from the United States Army. As Colonel, he served as a Director of the Department of Preventative Health Services at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Debboun was principal administrator and program manager for a diverse multidisciplinary department consisting of such disciplines as public health, environmental/occupational health, medical entomology/zoology, and preventive medicine. His extensive work and leadership experiences include research and development of arthropod repellents, and field Soldier personal protective measures. His assignments and field work has taken him to over 25 different countries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America.

For more than a decade, Dr. Debboun worked in consultation with the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dr. Debboun is a Board Certified Medical & Veterinary Entomologist, a member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, President of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) International Affairs Committee, American Mosquito Control Association, Society of Vector Ecology and the Tropical Medicine Association of Washington.

Dr. Debboun’s received a Bachelor of Arts in Cellular & Molecular Biology from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, a Master of Science in Medical Entomology from the University of New Hampshire, and a Ph.D. in Medical & Veterinary Entomology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Michael W. “Mac” McClendon<br /><small>Director - Office of Public Health Preparedness & Response</small> Michael W. “Mac” McClendon
Director - Office of Public Health Preparedness & Response

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Welcome to the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR)!

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) is the primary agency responsible for protecting the public’s health in the event of a widespread public health emergency within Harris County. A public health emergency is defined as an immediate threat from a naturally occurring or intentional event that poses a high risk of fatalities or serious long-term disability to large numbers of people.

Within HCPH, OPHPR works with numerous jurisdictional partners, emergency responders, private and public sectors, NGO’s, and volunteer organizations to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the effects of emerging infectious diseases, pandemics, chemical, biological/radiological emergencies along with other non-specific public health emergencies.

OPHPR maintains plans, standard operating guides (SOG’s) and supporting documents that guide preparedness, mitigation, and response activities. OPHPR actively engages both our employees and volunteer support partners in training through classroom sessions, drills, and exercises to help plan and prepare for public health emergencies.

For more information about the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, please call (713) 439-6179.


Mac McClendon joined Harris County Public Health (HCPH) in November 2005 as the Emergency Management Coordinator. In August 2006 he was named Chief, Office of Public Health Preparedness and in March 2007 was named Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness Emergency Management Coordinator. McClendon is responsible for all hazard planning and response to public health emergencies. He is also experienced in developing and implementing emergency preparedness plans within the all hazards framework and represents Public Health on many local, state and federal planning committees.

McClendon was formerly the Emergency Response Chief for a major chemical manufacturer and has over 24 years of experience in emergency response and management including Fire, Heavy Rescue, Hazardous Materials and EMS. He served as the Safety Officer for the Unified Command, Reliant Park Sheltering Operation, post Hurricane Katrina. He is an original member of the Texas Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue Team where he serves as a Task Force Safety Officer and is also a member of the State of Texas Region 2 Type 3 Incident Management Team. McClendon also serves on the State Incident Management Team advisory board representing ESF8.

McClendon is a member of the Strategic National Stockpile workgroup of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. He sits on the Harris County Citizen Emergency Response Team Council. He also serves on five Local Emergency Planning Committees. McClendon chairs the First Responder Health and Safety Committee for the Houston Urban area Security Initiative and he is a member of the Houston-Harris County BioWatch Advisory Committee. McClendon is also a member of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Area Maritime Security Committee and the Security Advisory Council for the Texas Medical Center.

Elizabeth Perez, MPH<br /><small>Director - Office of Communications, Education & Engagement</small> Elizabeth Perez, MPH
Director - Office of Communications, Education & Engagement

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Welcome to the Office of Communications, Education, and Engagement (OCEE)!

Our job is to tell the Harris County Public Health story—a diverse narrative comprising people, place, and experience that defines Harris County, and to provide support to HCPH amid a growing population.

How do we do this?

We help, assisting our departments, programs, clinics, and offices in getting the word out about their own stories and programs that are in neighborhood.

We collaborate, working across divisional and organizational boundaries to communicate consistently and strategically.

We educate, and share imparting stories to our numerous communities and audiences, both internal and external, using a variety of print, social media, and electronic means.

We engage, which means that you are the most vital piece to helping us ensure that everyone has the opportunity to reach their optimal health.

We are here to support our leadership, divisions, offices, and the community. To learn more about us or to invite us to a community event, call: (713) 439-6246. For media requests, call: (713) 439-6911.


Elizabeth Perez joined Harris County Public Health Department (HCPH) as the Director of Communications, Education, and Engagement (OCEE) in 2015. Her responsibilities include overseeing the overall communication and engagement methods of HCPH, both internally and externally. Whether it be through the creation of educational videos and materials, marketing, and all forms of media, her office and staff serve as the supportive foundation to all of HCPH and the community. Her experience in both healthcare and with national campaigns, educational and communication efforts, bring a unique level of expertise and resources to serve the residents of Harris County.

Before moving to Harris County, Elizabeth was a Public Health Advisor, Communication Specialist at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington D.C. During her time at HHS, Elizabeth worked at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Office of Minority Health (OMH). At SAMHSA, Elizabeth managed their Public Engagement Platform (PEP), which oversees the agencies communication and engagement efforts with the public, including the development of mobile apps and implementing the agencies plain-language efforts. At the Office of Minority Health, Elizabeth led various communication and education efforts to diverse populations, including outreach and enrollment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), implementation of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (CLAS), and various observances and campaigns that aimed to reduce disparities and improve the health of all populations.

Prior to working at HHS, Ms. Perez worked at the National Coalition of Health Care, a think tank and advocacy group for the Affordable Care Act. Ms. Perez originally comes into the health policy and communication arena as a clinician, as she worked within the health care sector for over eight years. As a clinician, she has coordinated various quality improvement and quality assurance measures aimed at improving quality of patient care, improving patient flow, patient safety and cost effectiveness. She played a role in developing various policy changes within the hospital and worked on regional state policy, working with the Hospital Association of Southern California in studying and making recommendations addressing the influx of involuntary medical holds (5150) within emergency rooms.

Ms. Perez is a California native and she received her Bachelors in Radiation Sciences, with an emphasis in health administration and research, and a Masters in Public Health in Health Policy and Leadership from Loma Linda University.

Rocaille Roberts, MPH<br /><small>Director - Office of Policy & Planning</small> Rocaille Roberts, MPH
Director - Office of Policy & Planning

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Welcome to the Office of Policy and Planning!

It is an awesome privilege to work in the field of public health, a profession that I absolutely love. An incredible wealth of information is at my fingertips, constantly challenging me to stretch my imagination and to think hard about how the health potential of communities, neighborhoods, and families can more fully be achieved. Interestingly enough, public health seeps into my personal life – from decisions about my child’s safety seat to whom I vote for in an election. Health and well-being for individuals and communities is on the forefront of my mind.

I credit this influence to the Harris County Public Health (HCPH) Office of Policy and Planning (OPP). Since 2005, I’ve enjoyed working in the office at a strategic level on various complex and evolving public health issues across the department ranging from emergency preparedness to childhood obesity. OPP relies on the best evidence available to lead and guide comprehensive planning efforts that result in actionable strategies for improving and protecting the health of Harris County residents.

These efforts are grounded in health data and the voices of residents and other stakeholders. As part of OPP’s assessment role, we regularly take a snapshot of the health landscape to identify and prioritize needs in Harris County, realize untapped or underutilized community assets and work with partners to bring about change that will produce health benefits for all residents. As actions are being performed, HCPH wants to know what works and what is not working, so OPP maintains a department-wide evaluation framework to support ongoing monitoring of programmatic outcomes and quality improvement.

Policy is often an effective vehicle for speeding up progress and achieving the gains in health we want to achieve across millions of residents in Harris County. As the Office Director, I serve as the department’s legislative liaison and therefore work on various policy initiatives – legislative, regulatory or voluntary – at local, state and national levels.

I am fortunate to work alongside colleagues who inspire me to do better when I watch how they work tirelessly on improving conditions in our day-to-day environments to make good health achievable for all, regardless of one’s income, level of education or life circumstances. It is equally inspiring to see residents from all walks of life grant us access into their communities and get excited about the possibilities for better health and quality of life. Each day, I am reminded that public health REALLY…TRULY matters.

For more information about the Office of Policy and Planning, please call (713) 439-6000.


Rocaille Roberts is the Director of the Office of Policy and Planning at Harris County Public Health (HCPH). She is responsible for leading comprehensive community health improvement planning initiatives; and overseeing health assessment, strategic planning, outcomes evaluation and public health accreditation activities. She also coordinates legislative and regulatory policy efforts. Strategic areas of focus include health equity, health systems transformation and early childhood education.

Ms. Roberts currently serves on the Healthy Living Matters (HLM) Executive Committee as Co-Project Director, and oversees the implementation of various policy strategies aimed at system-level and environmental change to reduce childhood obesity in Harris County. She is also a Backbone Committee member for the Harris County BUILD Health Partnership which is developing a sustainable food system in a local food desert, the north Pasadena community. This effort is being recognized and supported by the National BUILD Health Challenge.

Ms. Roberts serves on the Texas Medical Center’s Government Affairs Advisory Council, the Texas Association of County and City Health Officials Policy and Government Affairs Committee, the Texas Public Health Coalition and the National Association of Local Health Official’s (NACCHO) Healthy Living and Prevention Workgroup. She recently served on a statewide Steering Committee for the Texas Public Health Action Plan, 2017-2021. Ms. Roberts received an MPH degree in health services management and policy from the Ohio State University in 2001.

Michael R. Schaffer, MBA<br /><small>Director - Environmental Public Health Division</small> Michael R. Schaffer, MBA
Director - Environmental Public Health Division

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Welcome to the Environmental Public Health Division!

As the Director of Environmental Public Health, my mission is to effectively utilize the resources I have to do the best I can to protect the public's health in Harris County by: 

  • Permitting and inspecting food establishments and public pools
  • Ensuring the integrity of drinking water
  • Abating neighborhood nuisances
  • Having safe pools to swim in
  • Minimizing lead-based paint in target area homes

As the regulating authority in these areas, we will seek compliance through education and enforcement efforts. It is the responsibility of owners to make sure their properties follow both local and state laws. These laws were put into effect to protect the public’s health, and I will do everything I can to ensure it is protected.

I encourage everyone in Harris County to report any foodborne illness (a disease caused by consuming contaminated food or drink), nuisance conditions of properties, contaminated water supplies, or swimming pools that are not safe to swim in. My team is here for the residents of Harris County, and they are committed to ensuring their safety.

For more information about the Environmental Public Health Division, please contact (713) 274-6300.


In March, 2010 Schaffer was appointed as Division Director for Harris County Public Health and (HCPH) Environmental Public Health Division, the local environmental public health department for approximately 1.9 million people. Mr. Schaffer applies a broad range of academic, private sector employment and consulting experience to meet the diverse environmental and public health challenges of today.

As Division Director of Environmental Public Health Mr. Schaffer works to protect public health by ensuring the integrity of the food supply, clean drinking water, neighborhood cleanliness, and hazard-free workplaces along with safe pools to swim in and working to minimize lead based paint in homes.

Mr. Schaffer graduated with his MBA from the University of Wyoming. He has spent 13 years in the electric energy industry working in both the thermal and wind divisions for PacifiCorp Energy. As his role of Director he had obtained extensive operations, business process, project management, and finance experience. Prior to entering the energy industry, Schaffer spent over five years managing various food establishments. He was responsible for all operational activities including all customer, vendor, employee, and financial matters. He handled all governmental agency inspections, requests, and inquiries. He was well known and had received many awards for his achievements in converting stores with low sales, poor safety, and overall lack of concern for following rules and regulations to premier establishments within the organization.

Gwen Sims, MEd, RD, LD<br /><small>Director - Nutrition & Chronic Disease Prevention</small> Gwen Sims, MEd, RD, LD
Director - Nutrition & Chronic Disease Prevention

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Welcome to the Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention (NCDP) Division!

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) launched this new division in September 2014.

Harris County residents have benefited from the HCPH Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) since 1980. HCPH manages this federally-funded, state-regulated WIC program in the unincorporated areas of Harris County to protect the health of low-income women, infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk. Daily, this public health program provides eligible families with nutrition education, access to nutritious foods, breastfeeding support as well as healthcare referrals for infants, children and women who are pregnant or delivered a baby within the previous 6 months.

HCPH firmly believes that health does not occur in a medical clinic only, but also occurs where we live, learn, work, worship, and play. As a result, the Chronic Disease Prevention Unit was established and will address the various arenas of life when working to improve the health of Harris County residents. We will be certain to use the lessons learned and the best practices of programs that have had a positive impact in communities similar to Harris County. Working closely with our community partners, we will fight to lower the rate of chronic disease, the leading cause of illnesses in Harris County (i.e. obesity, diabetes and heart disease, etc.). While our focus is to prevent chronic disease, our aim will also include helping Harris County residents to control as well as improve some of the disease conditions. Recognizing the important role of mental and behavioral health in relation to the health of the “whole” person, we will also develop programs with these important considerations in mind. Efforts to improve the health of Harris County are fostered through these NCDP departments and projects:

  • Nutrition and WIC Services (NWS)
  • Chronic Disease Prevention Unit (CDPU)
  • Health Education and Related Programs
  • Healthy Living Matters (HLM) - Co-Project Director

These are exciting times at Harris County Public Health! I invite you to continue to follow us on this site and, more importantly, to join us in our efforts to create healthier families, a healthier community, a healthier Harris County!

For more information about our programs and/or services, please call (713) 439-6082.

Michael White, DVM, MS<br /><small>Director - Veterinary Public Health Division</small> Michael White, DVM, MS
Director - Veterinary Public Health Division

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Welcome to the Veterinary Public Health Division (VPH)!

Our primary mission is one of public health - protecting you, the residents of unincorporated Harris County, from zoonotic diseases and injuries caused by animals. We accomplish this through:

  • Bite case investigations
  • Disease surveillance
  • Animal law enforcement
  • Stray animal control
  • Education
  • Rabies vaccinations
  • Policy development
  • Registration of dogs and cats within unincorporated Harris County

We also work in close partnership with the community to create a safe, healthy and caring environment for people and animals.

VPH is committed to providing humane, compassionate, quality care to animals in our facility. We attempt to return lost pets to their owners and strive to place as many of our unclaimed shelter animals as possible into new “forever homes” through our adoption program, the help of our rescue partners and transfers to other animal sheltering agencies. For those animals that need a little extra “TLC” or veterinary care before they are suitable for adoption, we have a robust animal fostering team made up of dedicated staff and volunteers.

Educational programs are ongoing to bring awareness to the pet overpopulation problem in Harris County and to promote responsible pet ownership. We advocate spaying and neutering, microchipping, and vaccinating as part of the solution to the stray animal problem. However, we alone cannot solve the problem. That is why we invite you to join the effort in educating the community on the importance of responsible pet ownership.

It is my pleasure to work with the dedicated group of individuals employed at VPH. Our staff members continue to perform their jobs with efficiency, integrity and compassion. I am impressed daily by their amazing loyalty to VPH’s mission of protecting the public from zoonotic disease and injury from animals as well as providing humane care to the animals in their charge. Through continued collaboration and coordination with our partners, we are committed to being a shining example of care and best practices for all sheltering facilities.

For more information about VPH, please call (281) 999-3191.


Dr. White joined the Harris County Public Health team in 2010 as the Zoonosis Veterinarian and became the Director of the Veterinary Public Health Division (VPH) in 2013. Currently, in addition to his duties as Director, Dr. White serves as a board member for the Harris County Veterinary Medical Association as the Disaster Preparedness Liaison and as the chair person for the Harris County Disaster Animal Management Task Force.

He has over 30 years of experience in the private practice of veterinary medicine and over eight years in the Veterinary Public Health field. Dr. White served as the Regional Zoonosis Control Veterinarian with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), formerly called the Texas Department of Health (TDH). While there, he worked with the Rapid Response Team that performed rodent surveillance activities associated with Hantavirus cases in Texas and was one of the original participants in Texas’ Oral Rabies Vaccination Program.

During his career, Dr. White has served on the board of directors for the Animal Emergency Clinic of Tyler, the Animal Emergency Clinic of San Angelo, and the wildlife rehabilitation organization called “Because It’s Right.” He served on the Animal Services Advisory Board for the City of San Angelo and as the President of the Concho Valley Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Michael White earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Biomedical Science and Veterinary Science and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M University. He also earned a Master of Science degree from The University of Texas at Tyler.

When not working to protect the citizens of Harris County, Dr. White spends much of his spare time caring for sick and injured animals as an active VPH foster volunteer.