PH Staff Member: Public Health Department Welcomes New Division Manager for Health Promotion
Liz Merson, September 2019.

Public Health Department Welcomes New Division Manager for Health Promotion

Author: Public Health Department
Date: 9/18/2019 9:27 AM

Liz Merson takes on new role protecting and promoting health in SLO County.

In her role as manager of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Liz Merson brought together leaders from across SLO County—from fire chiefs to home health visitors—to help our community prepare for health disasters such as pandemic flu. She was recognized statewide for her innovation in developing a training program that helped ensure first responders stood ready to deploy critical but rarely-used medications such as the antidote to sarin gas poisoning. And as a parent and volunteer, she built relationships across the community, from preschool classrooms to Cal Poly. 

Now, she’ll bring her leadership to a new role as the Public Health Department’s Division Manager for Health Promotion.

“I am hopeful that in this role, I’ll be able to have a positive impact both externally for our community and internally for all the staff who work tirelessly to make our community a healthy place to live and work,” she said. “I’m inspired by the team’s energy and compassion in working to make the healthy choice the easy choice in our community.” 

Chronic disease and injury are the leading causes of death, disability and diminished quality of life in California and make up 80 percent of California’s health care expenditures, according to the California Department of Public Health. 

“The Health Promotion division is responsible for addressing these crucial health issues,” Merson said. “The work is more serious and critical than it’s sometimes perceived to be. The catalyst for my interest in public health was health prevention, particularly to address obesity and chronic diseases … I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work in this area that aligns so closely with my public health passion.” 

Merson notes that the work of the Health Promotion team also aligns closely with many of the goals identified by community stakeholders in SLO County’s 2018-2023 Community Health Improvement Plan. This includes programs in nutrition education, tobacco control, fall prevention for older adults, traffic safety education, oral health prevention services and community wellness policies.

“I am excited to have a more direct role addressing the health issues identified in the community health improvement plan,” she said. “The wide variety of programs and services that the Health Promotion team works on to effect change in our community and build a healthful culture is inspiring and motivating.”   

She also brings a personal interest to the issues the division takes on: “My interest in health promotion arose out of my interest in obesity prevention and eating local, unprocessed foods to support the local economy and reduce carbon emissions from food transportation,” she said. “I was inspired by the farm to table movement, which was novel to me because I grew up in Manhattan Beach and had limited exposure to agriculture. In SLO County, farmer’s markets are a big part of our culture. I enjoy going to farmers markets as a way to not only eat healthy but also to connect with the community.”

Please join the Public Health Department in welcoming Liz to this new role protecting and promoting health in SLO County.