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City’s Public Health chief Morita to exit post

Dr. Julie Morita

The Chicago Department of Public Health is saying goodbye to the woman whose leadership was lauded by the mayor Monday as having brought citywide changes under Healthy Chicago 2.0.

In a statement Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel thanked Dr. Julie Morita for her work as commissioner, including the four-year plan that combined the efforts of the department and hundreds of organizations and clinics across the city to address how social factors, like Zip codes, affect public health across the city — especially in disadvantaged communities.

“For two decades, Dr. Julie Morita has been a relentless champion for health equity at the Chicago Department of Public Health,” Emanuel said. “She was the first Asian American to lead the department and leaves behind a strong legacy — groundbreaking tobacco legislation, higher HPV vaccination rates, record low new cases of HIV, strong response to the Ebola crisis, and Healthy Chicago 2.0, a plan that engaged partners in every sector to address the root causes of health.”

Morita was appointed as commissioner in 2015. Before that, she served as the department’s chief medical officer and led the response to the pandemic influenza outbreak, which distributed more than one million doses of vaccines across the city. During her tenure, Morita also created several tobacco-prevention measures, including being a part of the citywide effort to raise the legal smoking age to 21, which passed in 2016.

Morita will become executive vice president at Robert Woods Johnson Foundation.