Springfield, Ohio – Lance Himes, Wittenberg class of 1994, has been asked to step into the role of the interim director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) once more after the resignation yesterday of Dr. Amy Acton.
Himes is no stranger to the role as this will be the third time in six years he’s been asked to take over the position. A member of the department’s general counsel for more than 15 years, he received his bachelor’s degree in business and geography from Wittenberg and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1997. He served as the interim health director twice before under Governor John Kasich in 2014 and 2017. He will be charged with coordinating the state’s coronavirus response efforts and issuing state health orders.
Himes’ appointment was announced on June 11 by Gov. Mike DeWine during his daily coronavirus press conference in which he shared that Acton will take on a new role as his chief health advisor in which she will continue to focus on the COVID-19 health crisis.
Prior to joining ODH, Himes was an attorney for seven years in Cincinnati, Ohio, specializing on environmental issues. According to the department’s website, he was instrumental in the legal implementation of Ohio’s smoke-free workplace law and rules, had a leading role in the overhaul of Ohio’s sewage treatment regulations, and helped coordinate response to the Ebola virus. His specialties include administrative law, legislative relations, environmental health, emergency and outbreak response, quality assurance, and building stakeholder trust.
Himes, who took over as Chief of Staff at ODH in August of 2019, does not have a medical degree like Acton, however by law, the director of the department does not need to be a physician but must have extensive experience in the public health field.