ASPPH logo


School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

South Florida Welcomes New Cohort to Public Health Executive Leadership Program

The University of South Florida College of Public Health (COPH) recently hosted 30 up-and-coming Florida Department of Health professionals to the first segment of its Public Health Executive Leadership Program.

The program, which was held Oct. 1-3 on the USF Tampa campus, is getting a re-boot after a 10-year hiatus.

“The USF COPH has a mission to support the Florida Department of Health—it’s our job,” commented Dr. Marissa Levine, a COPH Practice Pathway professor who is one of the faculty organizers of the program. “And career advancement training is a big need they have identified. The public health workforce is graying, and problems such as Zika and the opioid crisis are representative of how public health issues are becoming more complex. The need to train visionaries who can tackle these problems is extremely important.”

Event speakers included COPH dean, Dr. Donna Petersen, Dr. Celeste Philip, state surgeon general and secretary of the Florida Department of Health,  and Dr. Karen DeSalvo, a professor of population health at Dell Medical School and former acting assistant secretary for health.

A range of topics, including self-knowledge, “emotional intelligence” and “authentic leadership,” were covered. The latter two involve identifying and assessing one’s management style and its impact on others.

“In order to provide authentic leadership, you have to know yourself and how to regulate your emotions,” Dr. Levine explained.

“The words we use and convey affect everyone,” added Dr. Anthony Masys, a COPH associate professor and director of global disaster management, humanitarian assistance and homeland security who is also involved in the executive leadership program’s resurrection. “We can focus on the negative and create what is known as a deficit model, or we can change the vocabulary and focus on what is going right and create a more positive vision and environment.”

Ms. Ana Barrera Goold, program administrator-records registration section for the Florida Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics in Jacksonville, said the session was “informative, insightful and relevant.”

“Learning about ourselves and ways to deal with others was very helpful,” Ms. Goold said. “I learned how strengths and weaknesses can impact the team/organization and that trust is vital among leaders and staff.”

The other learning modules, five in all that will be spread over a nine-month period, will deal with topics such as organizational management, relationship building and managing complexity. At the last module, participants will present a project taken directly from their work at their health department work sites.

Drs. Levine and Masys say the program can be expanded, in both size and scope. “We can involve more people by staggering the cohorts,” Dr. Masys said. “And we can use the program anywhere around the country or the world where leadership skills need to be upgraded.”

The next meeting with take place in Tampa in December. For more information about the program, please contact Dr. Levine at:

Story by Ms. Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health