Katie Towns has served as acting director for the past five months.
SBJ file
Katie Towns has served as acting director for the past five months.

Katie Towns named permanent health director

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Katie Towns, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department's acting director for the past five months, has been permanently named to the position.

City Manager Jason Gage formally selected Towns as director of health, effective July 18, according to a news release issued this morning.

"Over the years, Katie has been a highly skilled leader for the health department," Gage said in the release. "She has also done a terrific job in the acting director role and carries with her the highest level of confidence from our community health care providers."

Towns succeeds former Health Department Director Clay Goddard, who retired earlier this year to take a job as senior director of public health transformation for St. Louis-based Missouri Foundation for Health.

Towns has served as assistant director of the Health Department since 2015. In her work at the Health Department, she helped lead efforts to ban smoking indoors and raised the age to buy tobacco to 21.

She becomes permanent director of the Health Department amid a surge in COVID-19 cases brought on by the delta variant.

"Eventually, we will emerge from this pandemic, and I am sure that we will be stronger than we ever have been before," Towns said in the release. “I fell in love with this work because the basis of public health is to make life the best it can be."

As Health Department director, her salary is $145,000, said city spokesperson Cora Scott, noting a national search was conducted for the position.