Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris answers questions from the media during a virtual briefing.

CHARLOTTE – Gibbie Harris will retire as Mecklenburg County public health director at the end of this year.

She served nearly four years in the role, including almost a year and a half leading the county through the COVID-19 pandemic.

County Manager Dena Diorio made the announcement July 7 during the county commissioners meeting, adding that Deputy Public Health Director Raynard Washington will replace Harris.

Harris served as the county’s interim public health director from June to October 2017, when she was named as the permanent director for the department.

Her 30-year public health career has also included positions as health director for Wake and Buncombe counties. While in Buncombe County in 2011, she was named North Carolina’s Health Director of the Year.

“Gibbie is a true public health professional who has worked to bring competency, leadership, respect and trust to public health in Mecklenburg County,” Diorio said. “Thanks to her leadership, we have truly been able to help improve the quality of life for our residents.”

Under her leadership, the public health department has also addressed a Hepatitis A outbreak and implemented a community HIV prevention plan.

“It has been an honor to serve as the county’s health director over the past five years,” Harris said. “I have had the distinct pleasure of working alongside many dedicated and hard-working public health staff, volunteers and partners during my time here. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to serve the Mecklenburg community with them and, more importantly, the outstanding jobs and important work they have done and continue to do every day.”

Washington will become public health director role at the start of 2022.

Over the past 16 months, Washington has served as second-in-command for the department.

“It has been a privilege to serve with an incredible team of public health professionals in our department over the past year,” Washington said. “We strive every day to protect and improve the health of our community and make good health possible for everyone. I’m looking forward to continuing to work together in serving the residents of Mecklenburg County.”

Prior to starting work with the county in 2020, Washington most recently worked as chief epidemiologist and deputy commissioner with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health from 2017 to 2020.

Before that, he worked for the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare, Inc. and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Public Health has over 850 full time employees and multiple divisions.

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