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MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann to retire

The high profile state health leader will leave the department Feb. 2 after more than three decades dedicated to keeping Minnesota healthy.
Credit: KARE

ST PAUL, Minn. — One of Minnesota's most prominent health advocates will step down in early February after spending more than three decades dedicated to keeping Minnesotans health.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann announced her retirement Thursday. She is likely best known to the current generation of residents as the face and voice of the COVID pandemic, along with health commissioner Jan Malcolm, but Ehresmann's impact on the state goes back much farther. 

Ehresmann is a leading national expert in influenza, played a leading role in Minnesota's Measles outbreak of 2017, and directed the state's response to H1N1 back in 2012. 

“Kris Ehresmann has played a huge role in public health not only in Minnesota but nationally,” said Commissioner Malcolm in a released statement. “I have the highest regard for her skill as a public health worker, a communicator and a leader. She has helped guide Minnesota through many difficult public health challenges, and along the way she cultivated a new generation of talented public health leaders within MDH and across the state.”

Governor Tim Walz praised Ehresmann as a true leader, saying her efforts to keep Minnesotans have "left a legacy that will impact our state for years to come." Internationally-known epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm called her ability to communicate complicated messages and topics with both clarity and compassion "a gift" to residents of the state, emphasizing that Ehresmann will be greatly missed. 

“Serving as the director of the infectious disease division has been one of the great honors of my life,” Ehresmann said. “Like so many people who have worked in a job they love, I have mixed feelings about saying goodbye. That said, it has been my privilege to work with an amazing team and I have every confidence I am handing the baton to the best in the business.”

Assistant Director of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Emily Emerson will serve as Ehresmann's replacement while MDH launches a national search for a new director. 

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