County commission confirms Dr. Michelle Taylor as the next health dept. director

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 10:21 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department has a new leader.

It’s been a more than 4 month search for the county’s next health director.

Dr. Alisa Haushalter resigned from the position back in March.

Monday’s Shelby County Commission meeting was packed with supporters of Dr. Michelle Taylor.

The White Station High School graduate received a unanimous vote to be the next leader of the Health Department.

“And I am going to do my very best every single day to prove to you why you made that unanimous vote,” said Taylor Monday.

Taylor has 5 degrees from schools including Howard University, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard.

“And we have one of the most desirable candidates for an urban health department in America, poised to take the reins and I think we’re all just very pleased,” said Mayor Lee Harris.

However Mayor Harris’ top choice for the job came with some controversy from Commissioner Mark Billingsley who accused the Mayor of not being forthcoming about the interview panel not recommending Taylor for the job.

Billingsley said in a statement last week, “Shelby County and our citizens deserve experienced and proven leadership that has the ability to manage a $100 million dollar health department budget, seven-hundred employees and all in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic.”

However, Monday he appeared to have a change of heart.

“I want to personally apologize to you for any heartache you’ve had over the last week or so,” said BIllingsley Monday night.

“It wasn’t to disparage you, it was to ask about a really tough job,” said Billingsley

Billingsley went on to offer his full support to Taylor and congratulate her on her many accomplishments.

Taylor says her top priority is improving Shelby County’s vaccination rate.

Health officials say about 35 percent of the county is fully vaccinated.

“Its not insurmountable. We can do this. We’re all in this together,” said Taylor.

Taylor’s first day will be August 2.

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