Mayor Lori Lightfoot has nominated Dr. Allison Arwady to become the next commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. Arwady was been serving as acting commissioner since Dr. Julie Morita left the post in June.
Prior to her role as acting commissioner, Arwady served as the chief medical officer at CDPH for four years. As chief medical officer, she oversaw the disease control, environmental health, emergency preparedness and behavioral health divisions.
During her time as chief medical officer, Chicago’s adolescent immunization rates rose to historic highs while teen smoking and teen birth rates dropped to historic lows, according to a city press release.
She has also worked on disease outbreaks, immunization promotion, tuberculosis response and substance misuse, including overseeing the department’s response to the opioid epidemic.
Lightfoot called Arwady a dedicated and innovative leader in announcing her nomination.
“As a physician and public servant, Dr. Arwady has served the residents of our city by pushing the health department to be on the forefront of issues ranging from regulating tobacco sales to tackling opioid addiction in our neighborhoods,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working closely with her to make Chicago a safer, healthier and more equitable city.”
Arwady also helped to oversee Healthy Chicago 2.0, a comprehensive plan that engages partners throughout the city to address health inequities and improve the health of all Chicagoans. An updated version of that plan, Healthy Chicago 2025, is now in development.
“I am honored and humbled by this announcement and look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Lightfoot to make our city a healthy place to live, work and play for all Chicagoans,” Arwady said in a statement. “Promoting health equity drives everything we do at CDPH as we work toward a healthier Chicago.”
Prior to her time at CDPH, Arwady worked as an epidemic intelligence service officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she focused on outbreak response, including international work on Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. While based at the Illinois Department of Public Health, she responded to disease outbreaks across the state.
Arwady earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and master’s degree in public health from Columbia University. She completed medical school and clinical training at Yale University. Arwady is a board-certified internal medicine physician and pediatrician, and she continues to see primary care patients weekly as a volunteer at Chicago’s largest free clinic, according to a city press release.
The nomination follows a national search for candidates, two rounds of preliminary interviews with several candidates and interviews with two finalists, according to city officials. Lightfoot will submit her appointment for City Council approval at their September meeting scheduled for Wednesday.