Gov. JB Pritzker has tapped Dr. Sameer Vohra, a downstate pediatrician, to lead the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“Dr. Vohra is accomplished in every sense of the word,” Pritzker said in a statement announcing his appointment of Vohra. “His experience and education transcend sectors and fields, bringing a well-rounded perspective to this agency.”
Vohra takes over the role from Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who resigned earlier this year to lead the non-profit hospital system Sinai Chicago after helping to shepherd Illinois residents through the COVID-19 pandemic. Vohra’s scheduled start date is Aug. 1. He takes over an agency that will continue to manage the response to the pandemic and other major health care crises. The agency is also tasked with tackling persistent health disparities across the state.
“I am honored to lead this agency into the future, continuing to keep us safe from emerging illnesses, supporting our public health workers, and promoting wellness in every community across Illinois,” Vohra said in the statement.
Vohra is an expert in state and national health policy, most recently focusing on improving health outcomes in central and southern Illinois, according to the statement. He is the founding chairman of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s Population Science and Policy department. Vohra, who has a law degree, is also the interim chairman of the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership.
Vohra serves on a variety of Illinois committees, including the state’s Board of Health and the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council. He previously served on several national committees, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.
Amaal Tokars, assistant director at the Illinois public health department, has led the agency temporarily since Ezike left.