On Monday, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced the appointment of Dr. Olusimbo “Simbo” Ige to lead the Chicago Department of Public Health, making her the first Black female commissioner to permanently head the organization.
Dr. Ige’s nomination as the CDPH Commissioner occurs months after Mayor Johnson’s dismissal of Allison Arwady, her predecessor.
“Dr. Ige is a tremendous addition to not just our administration, but to the City of Chicago,” said Mayor Johnson. “Dr. Ige is someone who understands the balance between hard data and community interaction when assessing public health problems and solutions, and with decades of experience in public health, she brings a clear-eyed understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities that CDPH and our city face, and how we will collectively overcome them.
“She will lead with compassion, competency and collaboration in moving our public health department and our city forward.”
Dr. Ige’s career in public health spans nearly two decades.
She once served as Assistant Commissioner for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In this role, Dr. Ige oversaw an array of programs which included the city’s response to the pandemic, initiatives addressing food security, housing and health, mental health programs, violence prevention and the Public Health Corps initiative. Dr. Ige is presently the Managing Director of Programs at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“It is a distinct honor to serve the city of Chicago in this role,” said Dr. Ige. “Through collaboration with the Johnson Administration and with community members in Chicago, I am confident that we can improve the health outcomes for all Chicagoans. I have spent my entire career in the public health field, and I look forward to bringing all that I have learned to CDPH.”
“We at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are immensely grateful for the invaluable contributions Dr. Ige made during her tenure with us,” said Julie Morita, MD, Executive Vice President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and CDPH commissioner from 2015-2019. “Knowing a little bit about her next position, I am confident that Dr. Ige possesses the knowledge and commitment to drive positive change in public health. Her passion is an inspiration, and we wish her every success.”
Dr. Ige’s selection was the result of a rigorous nationwide search led by a committee of prominent public health leaders which include Dr. David Ansell, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President for Community Health Equity at Rush University Medical Center; Arturo Carillo, Ph.D., LCSW, Deputy Director for Health and Violence Prevention for the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council; Dr. Ngozi Ezike, MD, President and CEO of Sinai Chicago; Dr. Wayne H. Giles, MD, MS, Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Dr. Linda Rae Murray, MD, MPH, F.A.C.P., the former Bureau Chief for the Chicago Department of Health under Mayor Harold Washington and former Chief Medical Officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health of the Cook County Health & Hospital System. Other search committee members included representatives from the Mayor’s Office and Acting CDPH Commissioner Fikirte Wagaw.
The search committee undertook an extensive process involving the solicitation, vetting, and interviewing of numerous public health candidates nationwide. Mayor Johnson interviewed four final candidates before selecting Dr. Ige, who will make history as the first Black female commissioner to permanently lead the CDPH.
“In a comprehensive nationwide search, one name was continually mentioned across public health experts as one of the most talented public health leaders in the nation and that was Dr. Ige,” said Dr. David Ansell. “We are pleased to welcome Dr. Ige to lead the Chicago Department of Public Health at this critical moment.”
Before her tenure in New York, Dr. Ige held the position of Executive Director of Global Health for the General Board of Global Ministries. In this capacity, she effectively spearheaded health initiatives spanning the United States and 30 other countries. As Executive Director, Dr. Ige supervised the operations, finances, and personnel of offices in 16 countries, collaborating with over 300 hospitals and clinics globally.
Dr. Ige earned her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, as well as her Master of Science in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. Additionally, she obtained her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.