After Dr. Joan Duwve withdrew her name from consideration for the director position of the Ohio Department of Health on Thursday evening, just hours after Gov. Mike DeWine announced her appointment, confusion arose as to what caused her to do so.
DeWine’s office announced Duwve’s withdrawal Thursday evening, simply citing “personal reasons.”
On Friday, Duwve told The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, where she held a similar public health position, that she turned down the opportunity in Ohio due to the harassment former Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and her family had faced amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“In conversations preparing for the transition to the Ohio Department of Health, I was informed that the former director’s family had faced harassment from the public,” Duwve said. “While I have dedicated my life to improving public health, my first commitment is to my family. I am a public figure. My family is off limits. I withdrew my name from consideration to protect my family from similar treatment.”
“I very much appreciate Gov. DeWine’s confidence in me. I am grateful to Gov. McMaster, the incredible team at the Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the people of South Carolina, who have welcomed me so warmly,” Duwve said.
The governor’s administration will continue its search for a full-time director of the Ohio Department of Health, following the resignation of Dr. Amy Acton in June. Lance Himes has been acting as the interim director in the meantime.
Duwve is an Ohio native and a medical doctor with extensive experience in public health, DeWine said.
Duwve has been working for South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, as the Director of Public Health at the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Prior to that, Duwve served as Chief Medical Officer with the Indiana Department of Health and as the Medical Director for the department’s Division of Public Health and Preparedness.
Duwve is a graduate of North Olmsted High School and of The Ohio State University. She went on to receive a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan and her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University.
DeWine said Duwve shares his passion for and commitment to children’s issues and many other pressing public health issues, including substance use treatment and prevention, lead paint awareness and remediation, suicide prevention, smoking cessation, and injury prevention.
Duwve’s leadership spans government and academic service, as she also was an associate dean of practice for the Indiana University Richard Fairbanks School of Public Health and developed and directed the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes Center.