Skip to main content
King County logo

News

King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive Constantine thanks retiring Public Health Director, names interim director

Summary

King County Executive Dow Constantine thanks Public Health – Seattle & King County Director Patty Hayes for 30 years of public service as she steps down at the end of May. Dennis Worsham, a public health leader in Washington state for over 20 years, will serve as Interim Director.

Story

Patty Hayes

Patty Hayes


Dennis Worsham

Dennis Worsham

Following a distinguished seven-year tenure as Director for one of the largest metropolitan health departments in the country, and capping a 30 year career in public health service, Public Health – Seattle & King County Director Patty Hayes announced her retirement, effective May 28.

King County Executive Dow Constantine, in consultation with Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, named Dennis Worsham, currently Prevention Division Director, as the department’s Interim Director.

“Patty Hayes has served our community as an exemplary public servant and led through some of the most challenging times imaginable with professionalism and compassion. Under her watch, King County’s response to the pandemic led the nation, holding illness and death rates to the lowest among major counties, and set the pace for community vaccinations while focusing on equity as a guiding principle in our work in communities hit hardest by the virus. During her tenure with King County and throughout her entire career, Patty’s dedication to lifting up our entire community has been a hallmark of her legacy,” said Executive Constantine. ”We’re fortunate to have another experienced and trusted public health leader within our ranks with a commitment to equity and social justice to continue the health department’s vital work, and I thank Dennis Worsham for stepping into this role as we emerge and begin to recover from the pandemic and sustain our public health response to racism.”

“There is no doubt that our city owes Patty a considerable debt for her leadership during the most significant public health emergency in generations. Patty has shown that she is committed to the health and well-being of our communities, declaring gun violence and racism as public health crises to broader education efforts informing the community on making healthier choices. Her retirement is well-deserved and her presence as a valued member of my cabinet will be missed,” said City of Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “As Patty transitions to her next venture, we are fortunate that Dennis has agreed to serve as the interim director. I do not doubt that he and the dedicated and professional staff at Public Health – Seattle & King County will continue leading with compassion in this once-in-a-lifetime challenge while fostering healthy and thriving communities."

“Director Hayes is a phenomenal leader who took the helm of Public Health in challenging times and has guided us expertly every step since. Her inclusive leadership has strengthened our region more than can be seen throughout her career, but never more so than during the pandemic. I thank Patty for her tireless work and congratulate her as she retires,” said Joe McDermott, King County Board of Health Chair and King County Councilmember.

As Director, Hayes brought the department out of financial challenges that threatened its ability to deliver critical services to the community, and she successfully worked to secure new state funding for foundational public health services.

Hayes helped create and champion Executive Constantine’s Best Starts for Kids initiative, which invests in prevention and early intervention strategies to promote healthier, more resilient children, youth, families, and communities.

For more than a year, Hayes oversaw the massive mobilization of the department and community engagement for COVID-19 response. Last summer, with Executive Constantine, she led the declaration that Racism is a Public Health Crisis, initiating a community-centered commitment and response to reduce health disparities.

Prior to her role as Director, she led the department's largest division, Community Health Services, which delivers health services at locations across the county. Over the course of her career, Hayes has contributed to improving the public’s health as a nurse, academic, consultant and administrator in both the public and private sectors.

In 2020, Hayes received the prestigious University of Washington Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Award, the highest annual honor the University bestows on a UW graduate. Hayes received both baccalaureate and master’s degrees from the University of Washington School of Nursing.

"It's been the privilege of a lifetime to be the director of this health department. The opportunity to stand up for the health of our communities and create leading policy like Best Starts for Kids has been my passion. I've been inspired by our staff who show everyday what it means to fight for equity, so that every person can thrive," said Patty Hayes, Director for Public Health - Seattle & King County. "Powerful partners and partnerships too many to count have lifted our work, and helped us reach higher. I leave knowing this heroic work will continue, and with a heart full of hope for a healthier and more just world."

"It has been a privilege and a pleasure for me to have had the opportunity work with and learn from Director Hayes," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County. "She's been a remarkable leader and advocate for improving health across the lifespan, for heath equity, and for recognizing racism as a public health crisis, as well as navigating the department through the rough and uncharted waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. I wish her well and will very much miss working with her."

In consultation with and the support of Mayor Durkan, Executive Constantine named Dennis Worsham as Interim Director. Worsham has served as Public Health’s Prevention Division Director since 2015, including oversight of the communicable disease unit that has played a central role in the COVID-19 pandemic response. His first day as Interim Director will be May 29.

Worsham has held public health leadership roles in Washington state for over 20 years, including Deputy Secretary of Health for Washington state; as well as policy, community partnership, and communicable disease management roles at Public Health – Seattle & King County and Snohomish Health District. Worsham is a past president of the Washington State Public Health Association, and member and former chair of the Washington State Public Health Roundtable.

"I appreciate the trust that is being placed in me to lead this world-class health department, particularly during such a challenging time,” said Dennis Worsham, incoming Interim Director for Public Health - Seattle & King County. “It is a privilege to have the chance to serve our community, partners and amazing staff as we emerge from this pandemic, and come out on the other side of this a much stronger public health department. I am deeply committed to working together to build on our work in addressing racism and creating a healthier and more equitable King County."

Executive Constantine and Mayor Durkan will be forming an advisory community group representing the diversity of King County and people served by Public Health to inform the process for recruiting and selecting the next permanent director. Participants include:

  • Michael Byun, Executive Director, Asian Counseling and Referral Services
  • Teresita Batayola, President and CEO, International Community Health Services
  • Amy Curtis, Nurse Recruitment Specialist, Washington State Association of Nurses and PH-SKC employee
  • Youssef El Hamawi, Union Representative, PROTEC17
  • Dr. Hilary Godwin, Dean of the University of Washington School of Public Health
  • Chrissie Juliano, Executive Director, Big Cities Health Coalition
  • Susan Honda, Federal Way City Councilmember and Board of Health Vice Chair
  • Paulina Lopez, Executive Director, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition
  • Esther Lucero, President and Chief Executive Officer, Seattle Indian Health Board
  • Joe McDermott, King County Councilmember & Board of Health Chair
  • Michelle Merriweather, President and CEO, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
  • Teresa Mosqueda, City of Seattle Councilmember & Board of Health Vice Chair
  • Rogelio Riojas, President and CEO of Sea Mar Community Health Centers

Following a national search, the Executive and Mayor will jointly nominate the next permanent director to the County Council and Seattle City Council for confirmation.


Relevant links


Quotes

Patty Hayes has served our community as an exemplary public servant and led through some of the most challenging times imaginable with professionalism and compassion. Under her watch, King County’s response to the pandemic led the nation, holding illness and death rates to the lowest among major counties, and set the pace for community vaccinations while focusing on equity as a guiding principle in our work in communities hit hardest by the virus. During her tenure with King County and throughout her entire career, Patty’s dedication to lifting up our entire community has been a hallmark of her legacy. We’re fortunate to have another experienced and trusted public health leader within our ranks with a commitment to equity and social justice to continue the health department’s vital work, and I thank Dennis Worsham for stepping into this role as we emerge and begin to recover from the pandemic and sustain our public health response to racism.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

There is no doubt that our city owes Patty a considerable debt for her leadership during the most significant public health emergency in generations. Patty has shown that she is committed to the health and well-being of our communities, declaring gun violence and racism as public health crises to broader education efforts informing the community on making healthier choices. Her retirement is well-deserved and her presence as a valued member of my cabinet will be missed. As Patty transitions to her next venture, we are fortunate that Dennis has agreed to serve as the interim director. I do not doubt that he and the dedicated and professional staff at Public Health – Seattle & King County will continue leading with compassion in this once-in-a-lifetime challenge while fostering healthy and thriving communities.

Mayor Jenny Durkan, City of Seattle

Director Hayes is a phenomenal leader who took the helm of Public Health in challenging times and has guided us expertly every step since. Her inclusive leadership has strengthened our region more than can be seen throughout her career, but never more so than during the pandemic. I thank Patty for her tireless work and congratulate her as she retires.

Joe McDermott, King County Board of Health Chair and King County Councilmember

It has been a privilege and a pleasure for me to have had the opportunity work with and learn from Director Hayes. She's been a remarkable leader and advocate for improving health across the lifespan, for heath equity, and for recognizing racism as a public health crisis, as well as navigating the department through the rough and uncharted waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. I wish her well and will very much miss working with her.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County

It's been the privilege of a lifetime to be the director of this health department. The opportunity to stand up for the health of our communities and create leading policy like Best Starts for Kids has been my passion. I've been inspired by our staff who show everyday what it means to fight for equity, so that every person can thrive. Powerful partners and partnerships too many to count have lifted our work, and helped us reach higher. I leave knowing this heroic work will continue, and with a heart full of hope for a healthier and more just world.

Patty Hayes, Director Public Health - Seattle & King County

I appreciate the trust that is being placed in me to lead this world-class health department, particularly during such a challenging time. It is a privilege to have the chance to serve our community, partners and amazing staff as we emerge from this pandemic, and come out on the other side of this a much stronger public health department. I am deeply committed to working together to build on our work in addressing racism and creating a healthier and more equitable King County.

Dennis Worsham, Interim Director Public Health - Seattle & King County

For more information, contact:

Public Health PIO


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography