Harris County names Barbie Robinson new director of public health

Barbie Robinson was named the new executive director of the Harris County Public Health Department on March 9. (Courtesy Harris County)
Barbie Robinson was named the new executive director of the Harris County Public Health Department on March 9. (Courtesy Harris County)

Barbie Robinson was named the new executive director of the Harris County Public Health Department on March 9. (Courtesy Harris County)

Harris County commissioners unanimously voted to name Barbie Robinson the next executive director of the Harris County Public Health Department at a March 9 meeting.

Robinson will take the reins from interim Director Gwen Sims, who took over following the resignation of Dr. Umair Shah in December. A date has not yet been given for when Robinson will take over the department, which covers areas such as veterinary public health, disease control and prevention, and nutrition and chronic disease prevention.


Harris County launched a national search for Shah's replacement in November, and the decision to select Robinson was made at a March 9 Commissioners Court meeting following an executive session. In a tweet, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo welcomed Robinson to the county.

"We’re proud to announce Barbie Robinson as Harris County’s new Public Health Director," Hidalgo said. "She was selected after an incredibly thorough search, and I'm confident she'll tackle the toughest public health challenges in our region with ambition, mastery and creativity."

Robinson currently serves as director of the Sonoma County Department of Health Services in California, where she has served since her appointment in February 2017. Her responsibilities have included supporting community efforts to address health disparities and community health improvement, according to the Sonoma County Department of Health Services website. Prior to her time in Sonoma County, Robinson served for 15 years under various titles with the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.