Left to right: Dr. Olusimbo Ige and Mayor Brandon Johnson
Mayor Brandon Johnson announced the appointment of esteemed public health leader Dr. Olusimbo “Simbo” Ige, MD, MS, MPH to serve as Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). Dr. Ige is currently the Managing Director of Programs at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and has previously served as the Assistant Commissioner for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“Dr. Ige is a tremendous addition to not just our administration, but to the City of Chicago,” said Mayor Johnson. “Dr. Ige is someone who understands the balance between hard data and community interaction when assessing public health problems and solutions, and with decades of experience in public health, she brings a clear-eyed understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities that CDPH and our city face, and how we will collectively overcome them.
“She will lead with compassion, competency and collaboration in moving our public health department and our city forward.”
Dr. Ige’s public health career spans nearly two decades. As the Managing Director of Programs for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she oversaw partnerships with health organizations nationwide working towards making public health and health care systems accountable and equitable. At the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Dr. Ige provided oversight to a wide range of programs, including the city’s pandemic response, food security programs, housing and health initiatives, mental health programs, violence prevention, and the Public Health Corps initiative.
“It is a distinct honor to serve the City of Chicago in this role,” said Dr. Ige. “Through collaboration with the Johnson Administration and with community members in Chicago, I am confident that we can improve the health outcomes for all Chicagoans. I have spent my entire career in the public health field, and I look forward to bringing all that I have learned to CDPH.”
“We at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are immensely grateful for the invaluable contributions Dr. Ige made during her tenure with us,” said Julie Morita, MD, Executive Vice President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and CDPH commissioner from 2015-2019. “Knowing a little bit about her next position, I am confident that Dr. Ige possesses the knowledge and commitment to drive positive change in public health. Her passion is an inspiration, and we wish her every success.”
Dr. Ige was selected through a rigorous and thorough nationwide search led by a committee composed of prominent leaders in public health: Dr. David Ansell, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President for Community Health Equity at Rush University Medical Center; Arturo Carillo, Ph.D., LCSW, Deputy Director for Health and Violence Prevention for the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council; Dr. Ngozi Ezike, MD, President and CEO of Sinai Chicago; Dr. Wayne H. Giles, MD, MS, Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Dr. Linda Rae Murray, MD, MPH, F.A.C.P., Bureau Chief for the Chicago Department of Health under Mayor Harold Washington and former Chief Medical Officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health of the Cook County Health & Hospital System, as well as representatives from the Mayor’s Office and Acting CDPH Commissioner Fikirte Wagaw.
The search committee engaged in a comprehensive process of soliciting, vetting and interviewing dozens of public health candidates from across the country. Four candidates were ultimately submitted to Mayor Johnson who interviewed each candidate before selecting Dr. Ige, who will be the first Black, female commissioner to lead the CDPH in a permanent role.
“In a comprehensive nationwide search, one name was continually mentioned across public health experts as one of the most talented public health leaders in the nation and that was Dr. Ige,” said Dr. David Ansell. “We are pleased to welcome Dr. Ige to lead the Chicago Department of Public Health at this critical moment.”
“We are excited to have Dr. Ige bring her expertise, energy and years of experience to lead the Department of Public Health in order to implement the various priorities of Mayor Brandon Johnson as we work with communities to create a better Chicago for all its residents,” said Arturo Carillo.
“In an incredibly talented pool, Dr. Ige shone through as a highly experienced and passionate public health leader who understands the critical juncture that public health departments find themselves,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Dr. Ige is unwavering in her commitment to nimbly navigate through this time and set the mission and work of public health on a firmer foundation for the future.”
From 2020-2023, Dr. Ige served as the Assistant Commissioner for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where she managed a team of 500 working to address intersecting racial and health inequities. In her role as Assistant Commissioner, Dr. Ige advised New York City’s health and human services executive leadership team including the Commissioner of Health, Vice-President of Health and Hospitals, and the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services while providing oversight over an annual budget ranging from $500 million to $1.2 billion.
During her time at the NYC Department of Health, Dr. Ige developed a community health worker program focused on outreach and engagement with Black communities and she spearheaded efforts for vaccine equity across the city. Dr. Ige worked closely with community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, academic institutions, and other partners to advance equitable health outcomes for all New Yorkers.
Prior to her time in New York, Dr. Ige served as the Executive Director of Global Health for the General Board of Global Ministries, where she successfully led health initiatives across the United States and 30 other countries. In her role as Executive Director, Dr. Ige oversaw the operations, finances, and staff of offices in 16 countries and worked with more than 300 hospitals and clinics around the world.
Dr. Ige received her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery and her Master of Science in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. She received her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.