Two Decades After 9/11: What We’ve Learned About Public Health Preparedness and Leadership

Thursday, September 09, 2021 1:00 PM - 3:15 PM   Eastern Standard Time

Since September 11, 2001, significant strides in advancing local, state, and national public health preparedness and emergency response capabilities have been made. 

Join us as we share perspectives on these advances, including legislation, planning, and recovery. Our afternoon of sessions will cover programmatic and funding considerations, how states have built preparedness departments, and what our capabilities are today. Keynote speakers will motivate S/THA staff for the remaining challenges of COVID-19 and the next big challenges of public health preparedness. 

Opening Keynote: 20 Years of Public Health Preparedness
1-2 p.m. ET

The session will cover key preparedness considerations, strategies states have used to build preparedness programs, and what our capabilities are today. Keynote speaker Philip Zelikow, former executive director of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks (better known as the 9/11 commission), will share perspectives on how public health preparedness has evolved as a result of the events of 9/11, including legislation, planning, and recovery.

  • Welcoming Remarks: Michael Fraser, PhD MS CAE FCPP, ASTHO CEO 
  • Moderator: Nirav Shah, MD, JD, Director of Maine CDC and ASTHO President 
  • Keynote Speaker: Philip Zelikow, PhD, JD, White Burkett Miller Professor of History, University of Virginia 

Leading Public Health Preparedness Across the HHS Enterprise: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Future 
1:30-2 p.m. ET

  • Moderator: Nirav Shah, MD, JD, Director of Maine CDC and ASTHO President 
  • Panelists:
    Robert Kadlec, MD, COL, Former Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (2017-2021)
    Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, Former Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (2009-2017)
    W. Craig Vanderwagen, MD, RADM, USPHS-retired, Former Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (2006-2009) 

Panel Discussion: What 9/11 Taught Us About Public Health Preparedness
2:15-3:15 p.m. ET

This panel discussion will feature public health professionals who were working in the field at the time of 9/11. Conversations will highlight the continued importance of public health preparedness and its essential role in strengthening our ability to prevent and respond to public health threats. 

  • Moderator: Leonard J. Marcus, PhD, Founding Co-Director, National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, Harvard University 
  • Panelists:
    Sherry Adams, RN, CPM, Preparedness Director, Maryland
    Georges Benjamin (alumni – MD, Washington, D.C.) MD, MACP, Executive Director, American Public Health Association
    Howard Zucker, MD, JD, Commissioner, New York State Department of Health 

Leadership Discussion: The Preparedness Infrastructure: Where We Are and Where We Need to Go 
3:30-5 p.m. ET (Closed session – invite only) 

Focusing on state perspectives, this closed leadership discussion will examine how states were impacted by the events of 9/11 both immediately and in the long-term. Attendees will discuss preparedness infrastructure in place today and the process to build a more sustainable preparedness system to meet current and future needs.  

  • Opening Remarks: Jim Blumenstock, Senior Vice President, Pandemic Response and Recovery, ASTHO 
  • Moderator: Paul Halverson (alumni – AK), DrPH, FACHE, Professor, Founding Dean, IU School of Medicine 
  • Panelists:
    Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director, Rhode Island Department of Health
    Kevin Cain, MD, Acting Director, Center for Preparedness and Response
    Pritesh Gandhi, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Homeland Security
    Asha M. George, DrPH, Executive Director, Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense 
  • Closing Remarks: Joseph M. Henderson, BSHRM, MPA, Distinguished Senior Fellow, National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, Harvard University 


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