Gerd Clabaugh was appointed by Governor Branstad in May 2014 as the Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. Gerd has served in many capacities within IDPH, including Deputy Director, Director of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention, Director of Acute Disease Epidemiology and Emergency Response; during the early 1990s, he was appointed Director of the Center for Health Policy.
He is past-president and past-legislative chair of the Iowa Public Health Association and has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Iowa, Montana State University-Billings, Des Moines University, and Iowa State University. He has been lead author or contributed to academic publications in the journals Value in Health, American Journal of Medical Quality, and Vaccine.
Gerd’s community involvement includes serving on the city council and as the Mayor Pro Tem in the city of Johnston, Iowa. He is the past-Chairman of the Board of Directors for central Iowa’s regional solid waste agency, providing services to over 400,000 Iowans.
Gerd has pursued doctoral studies at the University of Iowa and holds a Master's degree in Public Administration from Iowa State University and a Bachelor’s degree from Drake University. He is married with four children.
Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention
Brenda Dobson, Division Director
Originally from Rippey, Iowa, Brenda Dobson celebrated her 33rd year with IDPH in 2017. With a degree in Food and Nutrition/Dietetics from Iowa State University, Brenda began her career in health as a clinical dietician at Iowa Lutheran Hospital, specializing in renal dialysis. After obtaining a Master’s degree from Drake University, Brenda came to IDPH because of the potential to make broader use of her advanced degree. She is proud of the commitment and passion to public health that is seen throughout the department and is particularly proud of her role in creating a more flexible workplace. “I developed a flexible workplace policy for the Bureau of Nutrition and Health Promotion, which was recognized by the Families and Work Institute and The Society for Human Resources Management as a winner of the 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Awards of Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility. More importantly, this effort demonstrated that state government can incorporate flexible work arrangements and improved employee morale.”
Brenda is married with two children and in her free time, enjoys playing the piano and spending time with family and friends. One of her favorite experiences is spending the summer between her junior and senior high school years as a foreign exchange student in Finland, where she had the opportunity to travel to Norway and Russia, as well.
State Medical Examiner
Dr. Dennis Klein
Dr. Dennis Klein, originally from Damariscotta, Maine, serves as the Iowa State Medical Examiner. Dr. Klein came to IDPH after completing his last year of medical training in Forensic Pathology and has been with the department for 17 years. If asked to describe himself in one word, Dr. Klein says that word be would “endurance.” That is a trait well suited to his profession, which often requires long hours and involves interaction with both law enforcement officials and grieving families. He says the collegial atmosphere at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner and the well trained, experienced professionals there make his job enjoyable. He is proud of the partnerships and strong reputation his office has built with other agencies.
With one daughter in college and another in high school, Dr. Klein enjoys spending time with family and finding opportunities to bike and run. He makes an effort to be well-rounded; volunteering when he can, learning new disciplines and sports, and supporting his family and friends. Growing up in Maine and receiving his graduate and post graduate degrees in Maine (Bachelor of Arts from Bowdoin College in Brunswick) and Vermont (Doctor of Medicine from University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington), it may not be surprising that Dr. Klein enjoys the colder months in Iowa. He says he loves winter!
Tobacco Use Prevention and Control
Jerilyn Oshel, Division Director
Jerilyn Oshel began her career with IDPH as an intern and liked it so much, she stayed! While studying Substance Abuse Prevention and Community Health Education at Iowa State University, Jerilyn obtained an internship at IDPH and upon graduation from ISU, she was hired as a full-time employee. Jerilyn says she chose a career in public health because she knew it was a profession with which she could never be bored, and after 15 years with IDPH, Jerilyn says the passion for protecting and improving the health of Iowans is what brings her into the office each day.
Jerilyn is married with three children and says spending time with her family is her favorite non-work activity. As with her career, Jerilyn has also been decisive in her personal life. She knew she’d found her soulmate almost immediately after meeting him, and they were engaged after only two months!
State Public Health Medical Director and Epidemiologist
Dr. Patricia Quinlisk
With a public health career that has taken her around the globe, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk has served the state of Iowa as IDPH Medical Director and State Epidemiologist for the last 23 years. Originally from La Crosse, Wisconsin, Dr. Quinlisk holds a number of academic degrees, including a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point; MPH from Johns Hopkins; and a Doctor of Medicine from University of Wisconsin – Madison. Dr. Quinlisk says she knew public health was her calling after serving in the Peace Corps in Nepal and seeing firsthand the importance of public health in preventing diseases. She came to the Iowa Department of Public Health after serving in a similar position at the Oklahoma State Health Department.
In her free time, Dr. Quinlisk enjoys hiking, gardening and traveling. If asked to describe herself, she would say she is “passionate about prevention.” Although Dr. Quinlisk encourages a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, she admits she “hates carrots, except in carrot cake, where you can’t taste the carrots anyway.”
Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, Sarah Reisetter obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Iowa and University of Iowa College of Law. After serving as the Director of Elections and Voter Registration in the Iowa Secretary of State’s office for nearly seven years, Sarah continued her public service by joining IDPH nearly three years ago as bureau chief for Professional Licensure. “During my time in the bureau, we were able to make a number of improvements that enhanced the experience of applicants for licensure. There is always more work to do as far as improving customer service, but I’m proud of the progress made by the bureau staff during the time I had the opportunity to lead the team.”
With a demanding career, spending time with her husband and two sons, ages 4 and 7, are a priority in her non-work hours. She says she tries to enjoy every minute with them that she can, since she is keenly aware that children are changing and growing all the time. Besides being with family, Sarah enjoys gardening, listening to music and being outdoors. Her favorite outdoor spot is Glacier National Park.
Acute Disease Prevention, Emergency Response and Environmental Health
Ken Sharp, Division Director
From Altoona, Iowa, Ken Sharp says his career in public health happened by accident. With a degree in Environmental Science from Simpson College, Ken had intended to go into the field of environmental work; however, coming out of college, there were limited opportunities. He stumbled into a job posting for a temporary position at IDPH conducting private water well testing and assessments, and 23 years later, he is still with the department (although he leaves the well water testing to others, now!). With a Master’s degree from Drake University, Ken is proud of a history of successful program implementation at IDPH that includes Environmental Health Capacity Building, Environmental Health Services Network (EHS-Net), Public Health Tracking, and currently advancing System Development efforts for time critical conditions.
Ken and his wife have three daughters, two of which attend college at the University of Iowa, with the third in middle school. In his free time, Ken enjoys fishing and hunting and works to ensure a strong future for both by volunteering with organizations like Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited. Ken is a repeat state champion archer and even won a national archery championship. He now doesn’t even own archery equipment! As many parents can relate to, once children entered the picture, Ken found other interests took priority over his hobby.
Administration and Professional Licensure
Marcia Spangler, Division Director
A lifelong Iowan, Marcia has been with IDPH since 1989. With a degree in Business Administration from Iowa State University, Marcia began her working career as a budget analyst with the Iowa Department of Management. In that role, she worked closely with IDPH management and staff. Attracted by public health’s programs and mission, Marcia joined the department when the opportunity presented itself. She enjoys the wide variety of responsibilities she holds and is proud of the management and staff she works with in the Professional Licensure division.
Appropriate to her position with the department, Marcia says the one word that would describe her is “detailed.” She likes to spend time outside of work relaxing with friends and family members, which include her husband and two “fur” babies. Marcia is a true and dedicated Barry Manilow fan, and had the opportunity to meet him a few years ago. She enjoys attending as many of his concerts as possible.
Kathy Stone, Division Director
After 19 years as a social worker, program manager and department administrator in a large hospital system, and 12 years in managed care, Kathy Stone found a home at IDPH because as she puts it, “It was the perfect job at the perfect time.” A decade later, Kathy says she enjoys the public service aspect of her career at IDPH, as well as great colleagues and the opportunity to employ creative thinking. Originally from Dunkerton, Iowa, Kathy holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Northern Iowa and Master’s in Business Administration from Iowa State University.
Outside of work, Kathy enjoys reading, playing spider solitaire and traveling. She loves walking beaches and picking up shells, rocks and sea glass. She says her suitcase is always heavier on the way back home! Kathy is married and has one daughter who lives in New York City.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Deborah Thompson serves as IDPH’s Legislative Liaison. Deborah says she was drawn to her career at IDPH because the core public health principles of assessment, policy development and assurance aligned well with her principles of good governance and resource management. Deborah holds both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Drake University.
In her five years at IDPH, Deborah says the accomplishment of which she is proudest is passage of the bill providing the authority for the Iowa Health Information Network to be made into a nonprofit, because she believes it was a great step for continuing to increase patient-centered care by using electronic records in Iowa’s health care system. When not representing IDPH at the legislature, Deborah enjoys spending time with her 2-year-old son, Lincoln, decorating her new home and going for walks.