Amherst names new public health director with strong background

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 09-14-2023 11:13 AM

AMHERST — A new public health director who will focus on addressing inequities in health outcomes and bring anti-racism values into the practice of public health is being appointed to the vacant position, subject to review by the Town Council at its meeting Monday.

Christina “Kiko” Malin, prevention team director and public health excellence grant administrator for Northampton’s Department of Public Health and Human Services, is being named to the Amherst position by Town Manager Paul Bockelman. Malin will replace Jennifer Brown, who stepped down at the end of July after two years in the role.

Bockelman said Malin has extensive experience in taking on increasing responsibilities and leadership positions, and building teams of partners in the field to address pressing public health challenges.

“I really look forward to working with Kiko as we build the town’s public health department to meet the demands of a post-pandemic world,” Bockelman said. “I especially appreciated that Kiko focuses on collaboration, listening and understanding concerns of the community, and integrating anti-racist values into her practice.”

Before working in Northampton, Malin served Alameda County, California in that county’s public health department for 10 years. She began as the maternal-paternal child and adolescent health director, then took on broader responsibilities as family health services division director. She added epidemiology and surveillance branch chief duties during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also worked at the California Department of Public Health as the preconception health coordinator.

In her interviews, Malin shared the view that a person’s ZIP code is more likely to define health outcomes than a person’s genetic code.

Malin holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a master’s of social work degree plus a master’s of public health degree in Community Health Education from the University of California, Berkeley. She is fluent in Spanish. 

The Health Director Screening Committee was chaired by Human Resources Director Melissa Loiodice-Walker and included Director of Senior Services Hayley Bolton, Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service Director Earl Miller, Board of Health member Dr. Maureen Millea and Ann Becker, public health director and associate professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts.

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