Oklahoma City, Okla. (September 12, 2019) – Governor Kevin Stitt announced today the appointment of Gary Cox as Oklahoma Commissioner of Health, a position that requires Senate confirmation. He will begin leading the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) on Friday, Sept. 13.
“Gary Cox is a respected and dedicated public health leader in our state who brings over 40 years of experience to his new role as the Oklahoma Commissioner of Health,” said Governor Stitt. “His guidance at the OSDH will play a critical role in our vision to improve health outcomes for all Oklahomans, and I look forward to accomplishing Top Ten results together as we work to efficiently and effectively deliver services and move the needle in this critical area.”
“I am honored to serve Governor Stitt, Secretary Loughridge and the people of Oklahoma as Commissioner of Health,” said Gary Cox. “Alongside the dedicated professionals at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, I look forward to developing innovative strategies toward improving the quality of life for all Oklahomans, which is key to Oklahoma becoming a top ten state. We have the ingredients in place, and I am committed to strengthening our ability to innovate and leverage cross-sector partnerships toward impacting Oklahoma’s most critical health-related outcomes.”
Gary Cox, JD, currently serves as the Executive Director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. Cox previously served as an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Tulsa College of Law and is presently serving as a visiting associate professor at the University of Oklahoma, College of Public Health. Before joining the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, Cox worked as an environmentalist for the Tulsa Health Department, where he went on to serve as Legal Counsel before eventually serving as Director for 15 years. With more than 40 years of public health experience, Cox has also served in leadership roles, to include Past President of both the Oklahoma Public Health Association (OPHA) and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) who represents 2,800 Local Health Departments nationally. He also serves on the Executive Committees for various national, state and local public health efforts. Cox chaired the Governor’s Joint Commission on Public Health from 2017 to 2018, is a Fellow of US Public Health Leadership Institute and serves on the University of Central Oklahoma President’s Council of Advisors. Cox received a Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 1973.
Cox has dedicated his career to improving health, raising the awareness about health issues across multiple sectors, and committing to develop and leverage private and public partnerships to improve community health outcomes. He is committed to a culture of continuous quality improvement and has consistently supported transparent and accountable governance in local health departmental activities, evidenced by the Oklahoma City-County Health Department’s designation as one of the first local health departments to achieve National Accreditation.
“Gary Cox is an outstanding, nationally recognized public health leader. His leadership of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, and previously of the Tulsa Health Department, has enabled these departments to achieve new levels of excellence in service, health impact, and national recognition. I know he will bring the same excellent leadership to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.” – Gary E. Raskob, Ph. D., Chair, Oklahoma City County Board of Health, & Dean, Hudson College of Public Health, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
“Gary is a thoughtful and forward-thinking leader with a great track record of pulling together cross-sector teams of influence in order to affect change in the public health arena. He understands the fundamental intersection between health, education and the economy and how each impacts the other. Gary’s track record clearly shows an increase of investment and resources going into the community, which directly impacts the lives of Oklahomans and makes Oklahoma an attractive place to do business in.” – Erika Lucas, Board Member, OKC-County Health Dept & Founder, StitchCrew
“The appointment of Gary Cox as the State Commissioner of Health is a great win for the people of Oklahoma. In my fifty years of service at the Tulsa City-County Health Department I have never seen such profound leadership as he served the community, and his subsequent service at the OKC-County Health Department echoed the same sentiment of leadership. I am thrilled at Governor Stitt’s vision to name such a great leader in the field of public health to take our state to the next level.” – James O Goodwin, JD, former Chairman, Tulsa-City-County Health Dept & Owner, Oklahoma Eagle.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health, through its system of local health services delivery, is ultimately responsible for protecting and improving public health with strategies that focus on preventing disease. Five major service branches - Community Health, Family Health Services, Prevention and Preparedness, Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and Protective Health Services - provide technical support and guidance to 68 county health departments as well as guidance and consultation to the two independent city-county health departments in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The mission of the OSDH is to protect and promote health, to prevent disease and injury, and to cultivate conditions by which Oklahomans can be healthy.