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Dr. O'dell Owens, longtime Cincinnati health leader, retires

Cincinnati Health Department now has 2 top jobs open
Posted at 11:30 AM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 18:25:47-05

CINCINNATI — Dr. O’dell Owens, who led the health equity nonprofit Interact for Health and became one of Cincinnati’s most vocal advocates for COVID-19 vaccination in the Black community, announced Monday he plans to retire at the end of March.

Owens, a Cincinnati native, spent five years as president and CEO of Interact for Health.

Before entering the nonprofit sphere, he worked variously as a practicing OBGYN, medical director of the Cincinnati Health Department and Hamilton County Coroner.

According to his biography on Interact for Health’s website, Owens established the University of CIncinnati Medical Center’s in vitro fertilization program and “achieved Cincinnati’s first successful conception and delivery as well as the first pregnancy from a frozen embryo” in the ‘80s.

“I came to Interact for Health knowing that this would be my last job,” Owens said in a news release. “Leading Interact provides a unique opportunity to influence health care in the Greater Cincinnati community by investing in grants, research and policy, and leading a dedicated and talented staff. Whether helping a child get glasses and see the board in school for the first time, passing a model Tobacco 21 policy to deter youth from smoking or vaping or helping reduce opioid overdoses, I retire knowing that, together, we’ve made a lasting impact on our community’s health. I also plan to volunteer to support community groups on the regional response to the COVID-19 pandemic after my position ends with Interact for Health.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Owens and other Black health leaders in the Cincinnati area worked together to fight vaccine misinformation in the city’s Black community and keep a spotlight on racial disparities in vaccination rates.