Rich Cooper

May 15, 2009

This morning the White House is slated to announce that Dr. Thomas Frieden will be the new Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Dr. Frieden is currently the City of New York’s top health official where he has served since 2002.

Based upon everything I’ve read on him this morning
he is more than qualified and has the necessary skills and experience to lead the CDC through all of the challenges it will have in the coming years.  As the song says, “If [you] can make it there [New York City], [you] can make it anywhere” and the Big Apple is as large a platform as any to be the doctor on call.

But he’s not the person I hoped would get the job.  I was pulling for Dr. Richard Besser who has been the Acting Director of the CDC since January of this year and became America’s “Top Doc” during the recent H1NI Flu outbreak.

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the President’s nominee, Dr. Frieden.  I wish him every success in his new position, but having had the opportunity to get to know Dr. Besser through Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) Program and see him in action these past weeks, I had hoped the President and Administration would just say, “Hey Doc.  Stay put.  We’re gonna give you the job.”

That didn’t happen for whatever reason and I respect those, but when you have a talent like Dr. Besser who has the technical, organizational, communications and leadership skills and has proven them under fire, you need to hold on to them.  

With any luck the Administration will still do that in some way.  He’s earned America’s trust and we need him.

This piece was originally posted on Security Debrief.


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