Erika Lautenbach Selected to Lead Whatcom Gounty Health Department

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March 18, 2020

Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu has appointed Erika Lautenbach as Whatcom County Health Department Director, effective March 18. Her appointment follows a multi-phased selection process which included input from Health Department leaders and staff, community stakeholders, other County leaders, and references. The appointment was confirmed by the Whatcom County Council at a special meeting on March 17. 

Erika Lautenbach (formerly Nuerenberg) has over 15 years of experience in public health. “In addition to her extensive public service, Ms. Lautenbach has demonstrated her ability to manage people, projects and organizations and to be strategic in her approach to implementing public health initiatives,” said Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu. “She will assume this leadership role at one of the most challenging times for our public health infrastructure. She has my full confidence and is well prepared to lead our team of professionals at the Health Department.”
Lautenbach most recently served as the American Public Health Association and Brookings Institute Congressional Fellow and worked for the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. There she provided public health practice expertise to committee staff and members, and drafted and negotiated bills covering a wide array of health issues, including public health data modernization and disease tracking, family violence and child abuse prevention, youth smoking and vaping regulations, chronic and acute disease prevention, and social and nutrition programs for seniors. Previously she worked for the Whatcom County Health Department from April 2016 through December 2018 as Assistant Director, playing a key role in strategic planning and business and internal operations. She was responsible for the budget and financial management systems, department activities within the countywide customer service initiative, overseeing national accreditation requirements, and the Community Health Improvement process.
 “It is an honor to return to the Whatcom County Health Department in this new role and lead a very talented team. I have both a personal and a professional passion for creating strong community partnerships and improving the public’s health and wellbeing in our community,” said Erika Lautenbach. “My top priority as I begin will be supporting and providing resources to the strong team that has provided sound COVID-19 leadership, communication, and guidelines for residents, businesses, and organizations in Whatcom County.”
Lautenbach’s other work experience includes leadership positions focused on policy, outreach, and government and community relations with King County, Recology, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She holds a B.A from Michigan State University and has a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Washington. She has also been an active volunteer in the community, serving on the Board of Trustees of the Whatcom Library System and on the Whatcom County Climate Impact Advisory Committee, among other roles.
About the Whatcom County Health Department. The Whatcom County Health Department strives to create a community where all people have opportunities to thrive in a safe and healthy environment. Whatcom County should be a place where children and adults are physically and mentally healthy; families are strong and self-sufficient; people have the opportunity to make healthy, active lifestyle choices, and live in safe environments, protected from disease and prepared for emergencies. The department has more than 80 employees across five major divisions: Community Health, Communicable Disease & Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Human Services and Administration. The department’s dedicated management team is focused on addressing key community issues, including finding solutions to address homelessness and housing and substance abuse. Other priorities include development of the Health Department Five-Year Strategic Plan, implementation of the Community Health Improvement Plan and working towards renewal of accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board in 2021. See the Whatcom County Health Department webpage  for more information.