Leadership
Barbie Robinson, MPP, JD, CHC <br> <small>Executive Director</small> Barbie Robinson, MPP, JD, CHC
Executive Director

Welcome to Harris County Public Health!

In March 2021, Barbie Robinson was appointed Executive Director for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) – the nationally accredited county public health agency for the nation’s 3rd largest county serving a population of approximately five million people.

She comes to Harris County with a vision of HCPH as the Community Health Strategist for leading and enabling cross sector partnerships that connect safety net services in an integrated way to ensure interventions, services, and programs address the social determinants of health in a holistic way.

Prior to her appointment, she served as Director of Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS) for five years, while concurrently serving as the Interim Executive Director of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission in California for the past year.

Robinson’s leadership was instrumental in the formation of Sonoma County’s ACCESS Initiative, a nationally and internationally-awarded integrated, care coordination model that helps underserved and vulnerable individuals achieve self-sufficiency and well-being, a model that is being replicated across the Country. She led the County’s COVID-19 pandemic response, and oversaw the public health responses during the wildfires of 2017, 2019 and 2020 and the response to the County’s largest homeless encampment in 2020.

Robinson has over 27 years of experience in health care administration, policy, and research. Before Sonoma County, she worked at the Federal level at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for 15 years overseeing the administration of Federal healthcare programs, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Medicare Fee-for-Service program, and the Affordable Care Act.

She held numerous leadership positions while at CMS, including Associate Regional Administrator (ARA) of the San Francisco and Atlanta Regional Offices Division of Financial Management & Fee-for-Service Operations her leadership earning her the Administrator’s Achievement Award in 2014.

Throughout her career, Robinson has been recognized for leading collaborative efforts to address health disparities, health improvement, and health equity.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts with a triple major (Political Science, Spanish, and International Sociology) from Middlebury College, her Master of Public Policy, Health and Social Policy from Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy and her Juris Doctor from the George Washington University Law School. She was admitted to the California Bar in 2000.

Full Bio

Gwen Sims, Med, RD, LD <br> <small>Deputy Director</small> Gwen Sims, Med, RD, LD
Deputy Director

Gwen Sims has been recently appointed as the Deputy Director for Harris County Public Health (HCPH). Before being appointed to this position, she was the Director of Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention (NCDP), a division established in September 2014 at HCPH which serves Harris County, Texas – the third most populous county in the United States.

Internally at HCPH, Ms. Sims serves as Champion for the Collaborative Activities, Recognition & Events (CARE) Workgroup, which focuses on engaging and improving employee morale. In addition, Ms. Sims provided oversight and guidance for other departmental work, including the Drug Abuse Prevention (DAP) Taskforce; the Chronic Disease Tag-Up, which monitors activities across the department; the Injury Prevention Tag-Up; the Social, Emotional and Mental (SEM) Well-Being Tag-Up; the Maternal & Child Wellness Taskforce; Obesity Reduction and Tobacco Cessation community projects; as well as Health Education, specifically school health programs. She serves as the co-project director for Healthy Living Matters (HLM), a collaborative addressing childhood obesity in Harris County through policy and environmental change by convening community partners to share and implement best practices related to nutrition and physical activity. She was also instrumental in the creation of the Serenity Room, which is available to employees for meditation, prayer, or pumping for breastfeeding mothers.

In an effort to build and maintain partnerships, Ms. Sims serves on the boards of Cancer Alliance of Texas (CAT) – Chair Elect, whose mission is “to engage organizations, agencies, institutions and individuals to work collaboratively to reduce the impact of cancer in Texas and promote the Texas Cancer Plan”; L.I.F.E. Houston (Vice-President), which provides emergency food and formula, as well as infant nutrition education to families in need; and Houston Recovery Center Technical Assistance Group (TAG). She was also a member of BridgeUp at Menninger and the Houston SNAP Taskforce, and she currently serves on the Improving Maternal Health Steering Committee. She is a Senior Fellow of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Leadership Forum (Class XLVI – Healthcare).

Ms. Sims is a registered and licensed dietitian who joined the health department in 1997. She is a graduate of Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Foods and a Master's Degree in Education.

Dana Beckham, DVM, MPH, MBA<br> <small>Director - Office of Epidemiology, Surveillance and Evaluation</small> Dana Beckham, DVM, MPH, MBA
Director - Office of Epidemiology, Surveillance and Evaluation

Welcome to the new Office of Epidemiology, Surveillance Evaluation!

Science, surveillance, and technology are cornerstones of modern public health. Applying the scientific method to the data we collect allows us to confidently make decisions to improve your health and well-being. Surveillance data gives Harris County Public Health direct insight into threats to population health. Technology and innovation provide or accelerate solutions to difficult problems.

The Office of Science, Surveillance and Technology (OSST) enhances HCPH’s ability to detect problems, conduct research, come up with creative solutions, and advance the science of an academic health department. These three branches come together to form the foundation of precision public health, allowing HCPH to make sound decisions to improve the health and well-being of Harris County residents.


Dr. Dana Beckham received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Tuskegee University, her Master of Public Health and her Master of Business Administration from Benedictine University. She has over 20 years of experience working at the state and local public health departments in various fields, including zoonosis control, public health preparedness, community health services, infectious diseases and epidemiology.

In 2015, Dr. Beckham joined HCPH as manager of the Tuberculosis (TB) Elimination Program. She later served as the manager for the Epidemiology Program. In 2018, she became the director of the Office of Epidemiology, Surveillance, and Evaluation (OESE). She is Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certified and co-chair of HCPH One Health Conference.

Email: [email protected]

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

Biosketch

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.

Email: [email protected]

William Hudson, MPH, MSMOB<br><small>Director - Office of Finance and Support Services</small> William Hudson, MPH, MSMOB
Director - Office of Finance and Support Services

Welcome to the Office of Finance and Support Services!

William Hudson, Director, Office of Finance and Support Services, has over 15 years of healthcare / public health experience, and is responsible for the agency’s operational and fiscal integrity. His responsibilities include Human Resource, Finance, Operations & Logistics, Innovation and Project & Business Technology. His experience in each of these areas brings a unique level of breadth and understanding to the organization.

Prior to his promotion, he served as the agency’s Director for Health Transformation and Director of the Public Health Innovations Lab at Harris County Public Health. In his previous roles, he was responsible for the operational oversite and strategy of the department's 1115 Wavier Medicaid Project portfolio, Federal-Title X-Family Planning and Reproductive Health programming, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and the Public Health Innovation Accelerator Program.

He holds a Masters of Public Health (MPH) and a Master of Management in Organizational Behavior (MSMOB) from Benedictine University, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Texas Southern University, and is completing a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) program from the University of Louisiana- Lafayette, Moody School of Business.

In addition to his formal education, he has completed executive education programs from The Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness- Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, and the University of Oxford, Said Business School. He is a Fellow of the Academy for HealthCare Management, Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and a National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) Board Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ). He also holds additional certifications from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

Aside from his primary role with Harris County, William holds multiple advisory roles with institutions such as the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute, Houston Ion, and the Texas Southern University- College of Science Engineering and Technology, and serves as a graduate program evaluator for the Western Governors University Health Leadership Program, as well as adjunct faculty in the Texas Southern University- Barbara Jordan- Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs.

Email: [email protected]

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

Biosketch

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.

Email: [email protected]

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

Biosketch

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.


Email: [email protected]

Michael Ha, MBA<br> <small>Director - Disease Control &amp; Clinical Prevention</small> Michael Ha, MBA
Director - Disease Control & Clinical Prevention

Biosketch

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.


Email: [email protected]

 

 

Marva Gay, M.A., J.D.<br> <small>Legal Counsel</small> Marva Gay, M.A., J.D.
Legal Counsel

Senior Assistant County Attorney Marva Gay joined Harris County Public Health as its full-time in-house legal counsel in September 2014 through an arrangement with the Harris County Attorney’s Office (HCAO).She handles various legal affairs from contracting and transactions to public health law counsel, statute review, and policy input allowing for more seamless integration of public health law with public health planning and practice.

Ms. Gay has been with the Harris County Attorney’s Office since 1995, first within the General Counsel Division and moving up to be the Managing Attorney for the Public Law Practice Group.Her major clients have included the Harris County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Sheriff’s Medical Unit, the Harris County Hospital District’s Community Health Choice and Harris County Public Health.Prior to joining HCAO, Ms. Gay was in private practice in Louisville, where she focused on healthcare and non-profit related law. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Kentucky and her JD from the University of Miami.She is licensed to practice in Texas, Kentucky and Florida. Ms. Gary is a member of the Houston Bar Association and has served as a board member of both the Health Law Section and the Animal Law Section.

Email: [email protected]

Chris Fredregill<br><small>Director - Mosquito &amp; Vector Control</small> Chris Fredregill
Director - Mosquito & Vector Control

Welcome to the Mosquito and Vector Control Division

Chris Fredregill currently serves as the Director of the Mosquito and Vector Control Division (MVC). Chris comes to the position with over 17 years of medical entomology and public health experience which he uses to ensure that MVC constantly strives for innovation and creative approaches to control mosquitoes, while leveraging collaborations and grants into sustainable capacity.

Prior to this role, Chris held several positions throughout MVC including: Field Operations Manager, Research Entomologist and Larviciding Operations Entomologist. During these appointments, Chris oversaw collaborations with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Houston, incorporated novel larviciding technologies and directed the field activities of the division. He has additionally led MVC in collaborations with various institutions both academic and commercial including Texas A&M, University of Texas Medical Branch, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Department of State Health Services and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Chris received his Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University in Biomedical Sciences and Entomology. He has also earned his Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt certification and is an active member of the Texas Mosquito Control Association and American Mosquito Control Association.

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.

Rohish Lal, MPH<br><small>Director - Office of Communications, Education & Engagement</small> Rohish Lal, MPH
Director - Office of Communications, Education & Engagement

Rohish comes to HCPH most recently from the Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS) where he served as the Legislative Policy and External Affairs officer, and previously Public Information Officer.

As Legislative Policy and External Affairs Officer, he was responsible for planning and implementing both externally facing (e.g., government relations, policy development, political advocacy) and internally focused programs that impact health policy.

In his role as Public Information Officer, Rohish led media relations and served as spokesperson for both DHS and Sonoma County. He has extensive experience working in the Incident Command Structure (ICS), and led communication efforts during emergencies, including wildfire and the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Rohish has 10 years of experience in public sector health communications and community engagement. He was previously an Assistant Information Officer for the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS), which oversees 12 departments and five offices that provide a range of health care services, social services, mental health services, alcohol and drug services, income assistance, and public health services. Prior to his CHHS experience, Rohish worked at Xerox State Healthcare, California’s Medicaid services contractor, as an editor and content analyst.

Rohish received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from San Francisco State University and his Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from California State University, Northridge. 

LaPorcha Carter, MPH<br><small>Interim Director - Nutrition &amp; Chronic Disease Prevention</small> LaPorcha Carter, MPH
Interim Director - Nutrition & Chronic Disease Prevention

Welcome to Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention!

Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States and in Harris County. The Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention Division (NCDP) was created in 2014 to establish programs and initiatives that promote healthy behaviors and prevent chronic conditions.

LaPorcha Carter currently serves as the Interim Director of NCDP. Prior to accepting this role, LaPorcha served as the Senior Manager of Chronic Disease Prevention under NCDP with oversight of a number programming and staff in many areas of chronic disease prevention ranging from pediatric asthma to Diabetes in older adults. She also leads the School Health Leadership Group, a collaborative of school health leaders from over 20 school districts in Harris County and surrounding areas. LaPorcha specializes in program development and implementation. She has served at multiple levels at the department and started with HCPH as a Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) fellow and contractor in 2014. After working in the non-profit sector, she returned to HCPH in 2016 in NCDP as the first coalition coordinator for the North Harris County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. In 2017, LaPorcha took on the role of Chronic Disease Prevention Program Manager. In this role, she has assisted in the development, implementation, and expansion of multiple chronic disease prevention programs.

During her time at HCPH, LaPorcha has participated in numerous interdepartmental activities including LEAD_360, Lean Six Sigma, Health Equity Steering Committee, Data Stewards, and multiple tag-ups. She is also involved in many community and statewide working groups and initiatives.

LaPorcha holds a Master of Public Health Degree with a concentration in Epidemiology from the University of North Texas Health Science Center and a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from Texas A&M University.

Radhika Kudchadkar, MS, LSSBB<br><small>Director - Office of Planning and Innovation</small> Radhika Kudchadkar, MS, LSSBB
Director - Office of Planning and Innovation
Radhika Kudchadkar brings strong project & change management, as well as leadership experience to the role of the Director of The office of Planning and Innovation. She is responsible for the agency’s innovation portfolio, as well as strategic planning efforts. With experience in Technology, Innovation, Management and her passion for serving the community in an integrated way; she aligns her interests squarely with that of the mission of the newly formed Office of Planning and Innovation.

Prior to her promotion, her contribution to Harris County Public Health, has been in the strategic planning and portfolio management of the agency’s 1115 Waiver Medicaid Health Transformation Projects. This included a nationally recognized innovative approach to care, known as TB-VDOT (Tuberculosis Video Directly Observed Therapy), along with several technology and community health initiatives; where she served as an enterprise-wide senior project management strategist. Her dynamic leadership was instrumental in the formation of a one-of-a-kind Public Health Innovation lab (PHI Lab). This included accelerator cohorts through multidisciplinary teams as well as strategic public-private partnerships.

Having previously worked in the technology domain, she has brought and applied all of the agile and innovative frameworks to help efficiently achieve the mission of Harris County Public Health. Her execution portfolio includes her leadership in several organization-wide quality and performance improvement initiatives using Lean Six Sigma and OKR (Objectives and Key Results) methodologies. Throughout her career, she has been recognized for leading collaborative efforts to design and construct innovative processes, which have resulted in breaking organizational silos and fostering value-added project acceleration and growth.

She has served on numerous workgroups such as the Organizational Performance and Quality Improvement Council, Leadership Council and the Mentorship Program Development Workgroup within Harris County. Being a triathlete and a certified health coach, she brings grit and perseverance combined with empathetic design and Innovative thought to plan and execute effective community service systems. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science (BS) from India and Masters of Science (MS) from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in Electrical and Computer Engineering. She is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Black belt.

Email: [email protected]