A woman with an appropriately diverse background in serving the community’s medical needs has accepted the position of interim director of public health at the Jefferson County Health Department in light of the pending retirement of Gail Scott in late January.

“I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to follow a leader who has successfully led Jefferson County for so many years and have had the chance to be mentored by her,” Elizabeth Chilsen said Wednesday as she eased into her new role with the county. “I am excited to rebuild and resume many of the programmatic areas that have had reduced services during the pandemic, and find data-driven and creative ways to bring new services to the constituents of Jefferson County.”

“Elizabeth Chilsen has proven to be a leader throughout the pandemic,” Scott said. “She skillfully organized clinics, trained all the new staff and was able to quickly develop protocols for COVID-19 response. She is well-qualified and has great public health experience. I am confident that she will lead the Jefferson County Health Department well.”

Chilsen received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Alverno College with a minor in psychology in 2012. She went on to pursue a master’s degree in nursing from Purdue University, with a concentration in executive leadership. She graduated in 2018.

“My public health experience first started in 2012 as a nursing student with the City of Milwaukee Health Department,” Chilsen said, adding this was where she not only realized the importance public health plays in providing a safety net to the community, but was able to put many nursing theories into practice. “The core functions of public health, such as assessment, policy development and assurance, were no longer words on paper, but a true reality. This rotation helped me solidify my passion and I have been committed to public health ever since.”

In her years within the pubic health workforce, Chilsen has worked in various programs and specialty areas, including breast and cervical cancer, diabetes prevention, immunizations, communicable diseases and home visitation.

She began working with the Jefferson County Health Department in 2019. “Here, I was able to combine my passion, education and past experiences to support our team and community through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chilsen said. “During these tumultuous times, I was able to ensure high-quality services and statutory requirements were upheld within our department, plan and implement mass clinics and continue to foster community partnerships.” She said her time with Jefferson County has been marked with great success and this only has made her passion for public health here that much more focused.

“I am so honored to continue this journey with our wonderful department and I will continue to strive to provide the best service to our community,” Chilsen said.

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