Patterson appoints first woman to lead Health and Human Services

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has appointed Kathleen Forzley to be the next director of the Department of Health and Human Services. Forzley will be the first woman to lead the department which oversees the county’s Health Division, Homeland Security Division, and Children’s Village. She will replace George Miller who retires April 28.

“Kathy Forzley will do an outstanding job as director of the Health and Human Services Department,” Patterson said. “Her leadership overseeing more than 40 public health programs as the county’s health officer has not only garnered many national and statewide awards but also has bolstered Oakland County’s reputation for excellence in public health.”

Forzley said she welcomes the challenges that go with being director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
“I’m grateful Brooks has confidence in my experience to take the reins of his largest department,” Forzley said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunities that come with the additional responsibilities.”

Forzley is the first woman to take the top spot in Health and Human Services, but she is not the first woman to break such barriers in Oakland County government. Patterson also appointed the first women to be directors of other major county departments. They are:

  • Management and Budget (Laurie Van Pelt, director)
  • Human Resources (Judith Eaton, retired)
  • Corporation Council (Judith Cunningham, retired)
  • Risk Management (Julie Secontine, currently Michigan fire marshal)
  • Economic Development & Community Affairs (Maureen Donohue Krauss, currently chief economic development officer for the Indy Chamber).

With a focus on population health improvement, Forzley has worked to align community partners and resources to address complex health issues through numerous collaborative efforts, including the creation of Oakland County’s health improvement initiative known as Energizing Connections for Healthier Oakland (ECHO). She also has served in leadership roles for health initiatives on a regional and statewide level through her participation on the Michigan Public Health Advisory Commission, Michigan Local Public Health Accreditation Commission, Southeastern Michigan Health Association Board, and is the current President of the Michigan Association of Local Public Health.

“Kathy was the visionary for the Energizing Connections for a Healthier Oakland (ECHO) initiative which is redefining public health,” said George Miller, the retiring director. “She has the knowledge and the work ethic to take on such a large department. I am extremely pleased that Mr. Patterson has chosen her to be my successor.”

Forzley, a Troy resident, has been the county’s health officer and manager of the Oakland County Health Division since 2008. She served as the administrator for Oakland County Environmental Health Services from 2003-2008. Prior to that, she was an environmental health services supervisor from 2001-2003. She joined Oakland County in 1992 as a public health sanitarian. Forzley holds a master of public administration degree and dual Bachelor of Arts in biology and Bachelor of Science in environmental health degrees, all from Oakland University. Forzley and her husband, Murray, have three daughters and one grandson.