Secretary of Health, State of Washington
Represented: Policy Makers
In December 2020, Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, accepted the position of Secretary of Health for the state of Washington under Governor Jay Inslee.
Prior to this role, Shah served as Executive Director and Local Health Authority for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) in Texas, a nationally recognized $100 million agency of 700 public health professionals serving the nation’s third-largest county with 4.5 million people.
Shah earned a BA in philosophy from Vanderbilt University and MD from the University of Toledo Health Science Center. He completed Internal Medicine residency, General Medicine/Primary Care fellowship, and an MPH in management and policy sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center. During his training, he also completed an international health policy internship at World Health Organization headquarters in Switzerland.
Shah has enjoyed a distinguished career as an emergency department physician at Houston’s Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. He launched his career in public health as Chief Medical Officer of Galveston County’s Health District before joining HCPH to oversee its clinical health system and infectious disease portfolio. Under his leadership, HCPH received the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) 2016 Local Health Department of the Year award for its innovation, engagement, and equity work.
Sought for his insights in the fields of medicine and public health, Shah has presented at both the Texas Legislature and on Capitol Hill, and sits on numerous national boards and advisory groups, including the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Network for Public Health Law; Trust for America’s Health; Texas Department of State Health Services; and Texas Medical Association. He is the past president of NACCHO, an organization representing nearly 3,000 local health departments across the US, as well as its Texas affiliate, the Texas Association of City and County Health Officials (TACCHO). He remains active in clinical and academic activities through various Texas Medical Center institutions.
Shah also has participated in various leadership trainings, including the National Public Health Leadership Institute, the American Leadership Forum, and Kresge Foundation’s Emerging Leaders in Public Health Program. He has responded to numerous large-scale emergencies such as Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike, novel H1N1 influenza, the devastating earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti, and the HCPH responses to Ebola and Zika. Notably, Shah served as medical branch co-director for 27,000 Katrina evacuees sheltered at the Houston Astrodome in 2005.
Shah served as a member of the Advisory Panel on Patient Engagement from September 2018 to September 2021.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures
As of March 29, 2018
- Harris County Public Health, Employer
- Houston VA Hospital, Employer
- Jaan Health, Co-Founder
- Atlus Health Care System, Stock
- Tara Dental Group, Owner, Spouse
- National Association of County and City Health Officials, President/Chairman of Board
- Texas Association of City and County Health Officials, Immediate Past President
- Trust for America’s Health, Advisory Board Member
- Network for Public Health Law, Advisory Board Member
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicines, Health Sciences Policy Board Member
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Member, State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee to the Director
- Houston Health Museum, Advisory Board Member
- Texas Department of State Health Services, Statewide Funding and Policy Committee, Member