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Interact for Health announced today that Dr. O'dell Moreno Owens, President and CEO, will retire effective March 31, 2021. Owens has led Interact for Health since October 2016.
Woodrow Uible, Chairman of the Board states, "We will certainly miss Dr. Owens' leadership, advocacy and tireless enthusiasm for his work." Jeanne-Marie Tapke, the Board's Immediate Past Chair and current Governance Committee Chair, expanded on Uible's comments, "from early on, Dr. Owens stressed that to have the most impact our work needed to be laser focused. Over the past four and a half years, Dr. Owens has worked closely with the Board and staff to impact the long-term health of our community by focusing on three strategic priorities: reducing tobacco use, addressing the opioid epidemic and providing access to care via school-based health centers. I would like to thank Dr. Owens for his vision and leadership. While we are not ready to see him go, we are grateful for his leadership and wish him the best in his well-earned retirement."
The Interact for Health Board will put a transition team in place to lead it upon Dr. Owens' departure and will conduct a search for a new President and CEO. Additionally, the Board is planning a celebration in honor of Dr. Owens' many contributions to the community. The public will be invited and details will be announced when large gatherings are allowed.
"I came to Interact for Health knowing that this would be my last job," Dr. Owens said. "Leading Interact provides a unique opportunity to influence health care in the Greater Cincinnati community by investing in grants, research and policy, and leading a dedicated and talented staff. Whether helping a child get glasses and see the board in school for the first time, passing a model Tobacco 21 policy to deter youth from smoking or vaping or helping reduce opioid overdoses, I retire knowing that, together, we've made a lasting impact on our community's health. I also plan to volunteer to support community groups on the regional response to the COVID-19 pandemic after my position ends with Interact for Health."
As well as implementing the strategic plan, Dr. Owens and staff worked to build the Interact for Health brand as a resource for health education, to improve health equity and begin to address the social determinants of health in Greater Cincinnati.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Dr. Owens led staff in response to the evolving needs of the community. This included providing funding for face masks to nonprofits, additional funding for the overdose reversal drug naloxone and emergency dental care in Cincinnati. Dr. Owens made it a point to give the community the latest information about masks, hand washing and social distancing. His most recent focus has been joining the wide-ranging community effort to encourage COVID-19 vaccination. Additionally, he has worked to address the health disparities present in COVID-19 pandemic, serving as a frequent media source, speaker and member of Ohio Gov. DeWine's Minority Health Strike Force.
Dr. Owens holds both an MD and Master of Public Health from Yale University Medical School where he also completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology. He completed a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School and served as a clinical instructor in reproductive endocrinology. After returning to his native Cincinnati in 1982, Owens established an in vitro fertilization program at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He achieved Cincinnati's first successful conception and delivery as well as the first pregnancy from a frozen embryo.
Prior to coming to Interact for Health, Dr. Owens served as the Hamilton County Coroner, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College President and Medical Director/Interim Health Commissioner of the Cincinnati Health Department.
Dr. Owens has a long track record of service to community groups in Greater Cincinnati. He is currently on the board of the Cincinnati Fire Foundation, the Carl H. Lindner Jr. Family Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, the Ronald McDonald House, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's Cincinnati Business Advisory Council and is chair of the Cincinnati Preschool Promise. For 29 years, he was on the U.S. Bancorp Board of Directors, and has served on the boards of the University of Cincinnati, Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Cincinnati Red Cross, Fine Arts Fund (now ArtsWave) and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. For 10 years, Dr. Owens has volunteered as chair of the annual CET Action Auction which supports Cincinnati's public television programming. In 2020, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber recognized him as a "Great Living Cincinnatian."
Interact for Health is improving the health of all people in our region. We do this by promoting health equity through grants, education, research, policy and engagement. To amplify the impact of our work, Interact for Health focuses on three strategic priorities: reducing tobacco use, addressing the opioid epidemic and ensuring that children have access to health care through school-based health centers. We are an independent foundation that serves 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
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