September 30, 2022

Missouri’s leading health official appointed to two national policy committees

Media Contact:
Lisa Cox
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
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JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Paula Nickelson, acting director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), has been appointed as Vice Chair of the Performance Improvement and Accreditation Policy Committee for ASTHO, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Additionally, Nickelson has been appointed to ASTHO’s Preparedness Policy Committee. Both terms are effective through August of 2023.

“I am looking forward to serving in these roles and advocating for the public health system at the national level,” said Nickelson. “Preparedness and performance improvement are both areas in which our state and national public health systems have great opportunities to make significant progress as we pursue the collective goal of protecting and promoting health across the nation.”

This month, DHSS and the Missouri Hospital Association have been observing National Preparedness Month, encouraging Missourians to be prepared for any type of disaster. Additionally, this year marks 20 years of the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement, which has been a critical source of funding for health departments to build and strengthen their abilities to effectively respond to a range of public health threats, including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. Preparedness activities funded by the PHEP cooperative agreement specifically target the development of emergency-ready public health departments that are flexible and adaptable.

The Performance Improvement and Accreditation Policy Committee provides leadership and recommendations in the areas of policy, practice, and research to strengthen the ability of ASTHO members and partners to deliver quality public health services and improve health outcomes. The committee provides strategic direction in performance management, quality improvement, accreditation, data to action, financing, return on investment, and workforce research.

The Public Health Preparedness Policy Committee provides a critical link with and represents ASTHO’s best interests to senior leadership of key federal agencies and programs in the preparedness, response, recovery, and community resilience space. The Committee analyzes and provides insightful information to guide the formulation of national policy and strategy, with specific focus on all-hazards public health infrastructure needs, strengthening state and territorial public health readiness capacity and capabilities, and in fulfilling the requirements of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act and the National Health Security Strategy, among other issues.

ASTHO is a national non-profit organization representing public health agencies in the United States, the U.S. Territories, the District of Columbia, and the over 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, formulate and influence sound public health policy and ensure excellence in state based public health practice. The Board of the ASTHO primary function is to track, evaluate and advise members on the impact and formation of public or private health policy which may affect them and to provide, and them with guidance and technical assistance on improving the nation’s health.

Photo of Paula Nickelson



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About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS): The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.