Ekern elected new chair of Audrain County Health Department Board

Posted 5/18/22

After serving four years as the Audrain County Health Department (ACHD) Board chair, Dr. Kathleen Weaver notified the board she wanted to step down and have a new chair elected so she could help with …

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Ekern elected new chair of Audrain County Health Department Board

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After serving four years as the Audrain County Health Department (ACHD) Board chair, Dr. Kathleen Weaver notified the board she wanted to step down and have a new chair elected so she could help with a smooth transition. Dr. Weaver said she wanted to encourage other board members to expand their leadership roles. According to the ACHD’s bylaws, officers are elected by vote of the board every two years after the county election.

At the Wednesday, April 13, meeting, the ACHD Board of Health elected Jessica Johnson Ekern as chair. Dr. Weaver continues to serve on the board and will advise Ekern.

“I am honored to serve as the board chair and look forward to serving our community in this leadership role,” said Ekern. “I am confident that our team of professionals at ACHD, with Craig Brace’s guidance, will continue to provide Audrain County residences with quality programs and much needed services.”

Ekern is the daughter of the ACHD first full-time administrator, William “Bill” Johnson. For four decades, Johnson led the Audrain City-County Health Unit (as it was then known) which was governed by an agreement (Compact, Contract) set up between the County of Audrain, the Audrain Medical Center, the City of Mexico and the City of Vandalia. In 2012, county residents passed a mill tax allowing the ACHD to create its own five-member board through appointment by the county commission initially and then through subsequent elections.

Ekern thanked Dr. Weaver for the leadership, professionalism and expertise she has provided to the board.

“Dr. Weaver has worked behind the scenes to navigate our community through the pandemic,” she said. “Not only was she faced with an unprecedented public health crisis but also a change in administrative leadership at ACHD. Dr. Weaver successfully managed us all through the rough waters.”

Weaver says leading the ACHD Board of Health was a great pleasure and it was an honor to serve the residents of Audrain County in this capacity.

“I was so honored to be a part of the leadership team at ACHD through the past couple of years,” Dr. Weaver said. “It was a great experience to be a part of and I feel that we really grew as a department during that time. But, I’m a big believer in the adage that change is good and, it was time for me to take a step back and time for new leadership on this board for the health department and the residents it serves.” Weaver was elected to the chair position in 2018 and has served on the board since 2016.

Brace says he is very grateful for Dr. Weaver’s leadership in the past year and a half since he was hired.

“It’s been immeasurable the good things she has done in her position as chairperson of the board,” he said. “I have admired her leadership skills through a pandemic and an administrative change, both two very tough things to navigate through, let alone at the same time. But, I understand her reasoning for giving up the chair position and I’m excited to have Jessica assume the role as chair. I think residents will find she has their best interests at heart when making decisions concerning their health and well-being in Audrain County in the near future.”

Ekern assumed her role as board chair at the April meeting.

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