Kelly Garcia was appointed by Governor Kim Reynolds in June 2020 to lead the Iowa Department of Public Health and also serves as the director of the Iowa Department of Human Services.
Kelly served in a series of executive positions at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Most recently, Garcia was a deputy executive commissioner at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. In that role, Garcia directed 40 client service programs, managing more than 700 employees and a $1.4 billion budget. Garcia was the architect behind the state's successful Medicaid 1115 women's health waiver application, which established a landmark federal partnership with the state's Healthy Texas Women program.
Garcia also served as the second in command for HHSC's Office of Program and Services, a division that oversaw Medicaid, eligibility operations, behavioral health, intellectual and developmental disability services, women's health, veterans' health, and aging services. She managed all policies and processes for the division, with a staff of 35,000 and an annual budget of $38 billion.
Garcia previously directed the Office of Transformation, Policy, and Performance, where she played a leading role in the consolidation of the Texas HHS System. She also headed HHSC's government relations division, where she successfully shepherded the confirmation of the HHS executive commissioner.
Throughout her career, Garcia led improvements in organizational structure, program management, and policy development to large health care systems. She also brings to the role a commitment to building successful teams that will help Iowa families succeed.
Garcia is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and received her MPA at The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. She was a member of the Governor's Executive Development Program sponsored by the LBJ School of Public Affairs. She is married to attorney Dan Garcia, and they have two children.
Health Promotion & Chronic Disease Prevention
Dr. Nalo Johnson, Division Director
Dr. Nalo Johnson joined IDPH in 2019 as the Division Director for Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention. In this capacity, Dr. Johnson oversees the Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, Bureau of Family Health, Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity, and the Bureau of Oral Health Delivery Systems. Having spent the majority of her career in the public sector, Dr. Johnson has public health/community health experience at the state, county and municipal levels. Dr. Johnson practices participatory, evidence based methods to address community health concerns and was awarded the 2019 American Public Health Association Henrik L. Blum Award for Excellence in Health Planning and Policy Development for her leadership of the Johnson County Public Health community health needs assessment process, which encompassed the goals of broad community engagement along with robust data collection efforts. She centers the social determinants of health and the application of a health equity lens to her public health practice. Originally from Iowa, Dr. Johnson received her BA from Williams College (MA) and PhD from the University of Minnesota.
Sarah Reisetter, Deputy Director
State Medical Examiner
Dr. Dennis Klein
Dr. Dennis Klein, originally from Damariscotta, Maine, serves as the Iowa State Medical Examiner. Dr. Klein came to IDPH after completing his last year of medical training in Forensic Pathology and has been with the department for 17 years. If asked to describe himself in one word, Dr. Klein says that word be would “endurance.” That is a trait well suited to his profession, which often requires long hours and involves interaction with both law enforcement officials and grieving families. He says the collegial atmosphere at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner and the well trained, experienced professionals there make his job enjoyable. He is proud of the partnerships and strong reputation his office has built with other agencies.
With one daughter in college and another in high school, Dr. Klein enjoys spending time with family and finding opportunities to bike and run. He makes an effort to be well-rounded; volunteering when he can, learning new disciplines and sports, and supporting his family and friends. Growing up in Maine and receiving his graduate and post graduate degrees in Maine (Bachelor of Arts from Bowdoin College in Brunswick) and Vermont (Doctor of Medicine from University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington), it may not be surprising that Dr. Klein enjoys the colder months in Iowa. He says he loves winter!
Tobacco Use Prevention and Control
Jerilyn Oshel, Division Director
Jerilyn Oshel has served as division director for the Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control since October 2014. Prior to her current role, she worked with the divisions youth program, community partnerships and Quitline Iowa.
As division director, Jerilyn oversees daily functions to ensure a comprehensive and best practice tobacco control program is implemented throughout the state. Collaboration is key to a successful program. Jerilyn partners with key organizations to educate on the importance of tobacco control.
State Public Health Medical Director and Epidemiologist
Dr. Caitlin Pedati
A native of the Washington, DC area, Dr. Caitlin Pedati received her Bachelor of Science from Georgetown University and her Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from George Washington University. Dr. Pedati is a board-certified pediatrician and completed a residency with a certificate in Global Child Health at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. After seeing common health problems among her patients, and driven by a desire to have a broader impact, she joined the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service which, for the first time in her life, took her west of the Mississippi River to Nebraska. She served as a medical epidemiologist for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services prior to joining the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Dr. Pedati says she is excited to be in Iowa; she appreciates the genuine and friendly people – not to mention the lack of traffic! In her spare time, Dr. Pedati likes to sketch, read, bike (RAGBRAI is on her to-do list) and cook.
Sarah Reisetter has served as the department's deputy director since August 2016. Prior to her current role, she was bureau chief for the Bureau of Professional Licensure.
Sarah served as the director of elections for the State of Iowa from 2008-2014, where her responsibilities included oversight of all federal, state and local elections and voter registration processes. She served as deputy auditor for a local county government prior to working for the state and earned her law degree from the University of Iowa in 2006.
As deputy director, Sarah is responsible for oversight of the department's communications office, data management and health equity program, legislative affairs, and the bureau of planning services which includes human resources, workforce development, performance management, quality improvement, state health assessment and improvement planning, strategic planning, certificate of need, public health modernization and accreditation.
Acute Disease Prevention, Emergency Response and Environmental Health
Ken Sharp, Division Director
From Altoona, Iowa, Ken Sharp says his career in public health happened by accident. With a degree in Environmental Science from Simpson College, Ken had intended to go into the field of environmental work; however, coming out of college, there were limited opportunities. He stumbled into a job posting for a temporary position at IDPH conducting private water well testing and assessments, and 23 years later, he is still with the department (although he leaves the well water testing to others, now!). With a Master’s degree from Drake University, Ken is proud of a history of successful program implementation at IDPH that includes Environmental Health Capacity Building, Environmental Health Services Network (EHS-Net), Public Health Tracking, and currently advancing System Development efforts for time critical conditions.
Ken and his wife have three daughters, two of which attend college at the University of Iowa, with the third in middle school. In his free time, Ken enjoys fishing and hunting and works to ensure a strong future for both by volunteering with organizations like Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited. Ken is a repeat state champion archer and even won a national archery championship. He now doesn’t even own archery equipment! As many parents can relate to, once children entered the picture, Ken found other interests took priority over his hobby.
Administration and Professional Licensure
Sarah Reisetter, Deputy Director