Mayor Catherine Pugh today appointed Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, a career pediatrician and former Baltimore Medical System director who’s most recently been working on health tech projects for a local software firm, as Baltimore’s City’s next health commissioner.
Dzirasa will start on March 11, taking over for Interim Health Commissioner Mary Beth Haller, who stepped in after Dr. Leana Wen left in October to helm Planned Parenthood.
“I think it’s the job of the health department to support City residents in realizing their full health potential, which includes making sure their most basic needs are being met,” Dzirasa said in a statement from her current employer, Fearless Solutions. “I look forward to serving City residents and the health department as we continue to push this mission forward.”
In a statement, Pugh said Dzirasa will “bring a commitment to reducing youth violence through evidence-based approaches, as well working to eliminate health disparities that persist, even while building on our progress to address the opioid epidemic and further improve access to critical care.”
“We are fortunate to have attracted a candidate of Dr. Dzirasa’s caliber and broad experience to advance our agenda to improve the health prospects of all Baltimore residents,” the mayor said.
A health department spokesperson said Haller, an attorney, will return to her former post as deputy commissioner for youth wellness and community health at the health department.
Dzirasa is leaving her job as Fearless Solutions’ health innovation officer, a software firm founded by her husband, Delali Dszirasa, where she’s led the company’s TecHealth project. Per Technical.ly, that project has involved working directly with BCHD. Fearless developed a “Health-of-the-City” dashboard to analyze large volumes of the agency’s data and highlight chronic disease areas and needs. She also oversaw the vision for Fearless’ health care IT practice and led its business development team, per a brief bio provided by Pugh’s office.
Before joining Fearless, Dr. Dzirasa served as medical director of the community-based nonprofit Baltimore Medical System, which serves more than 45,000 patients annually in the Baltimore area, and in various leadership posts for the organization earlier on. Prior to that, she worked as a general pediatrician at a private practice in the city.
She holds a doctorate of medicine from Meharry Medical College, a historically black medical school in Nashville, and completed her residency at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She also has a bachelor’s in biological sciences from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“We congratulate Dr. Dzirasa and assure her of our support as she takes up this vital role on behalf of Baltimore residents,” Pugh said in her statement.
This story has been updated.
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