San Juan Basin Public Health Executive Director Liane Jollon nominated for Outstanding Government Service Award

Liane Jollon

Sen. Michael Bennet’s office

Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet announced he has nominated Liane Jollon, executive director of San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) and past president of the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials (CALPHO), for the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Dr. Nathan Davis Awards for Outstanding Government Service. 

Named for the founder of the AMA, the awards recognize elected officials and career public servants for significant contributions to the advancement of public health.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jollon has been a critical part of the public health response in southwest Colorado. She has been a calm, informed, and resourceful leader, advocating not just for her region, but for every other public health agency across the state. Jollon has the marks of a true leader — the ability to maintain hope, weather setbacks, and maintain good humor, in the face of what seems an endless crisis,” said Bennet. “Jollon has earned the trust of Coloradans, and the fierce loyalty and respect of her staff. She has displayed the leadership and scientific integrity that 2020 demanded. In recognition of her exemplary work as a leader in public health, I am thrilled to nominate her for this award.”

“Liane has been a stand-out leader both locally and in the state of Colorado during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said SJBPH Board of Health President Ann Bruzzese. “Early on, Liane led with humility helping all the local leaders get comfortable acknowledging that they will have to lead through COVID-19 with many unknowns; at the same time, Liane set the early example for all to follow the data and facts.”

“Liane truly has a way of fiercely fighting for critical resources that many smaller communities often lack, yet, she does so with the type of passion that yields results,” said Silver Thread Public Health District Director Tara Hardy. “If anyone deserves recognition for exemplary leadership in public health not just during this crisis, but throughout her career, it is Liane Jollon.”

“As the public health director for a health district that serves two counties and four municipalities, Liane’s innate ability to think strategically while acting tactically has ensured that the citizens of the health district have clearly articulated guidance to protect themselves, and others, as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said La Plata County Manager Noel C. “Chuck” Stevens. “Liane challenges all members of the community at large to think critically, act creatively and challenge the status quo in developing solutions to the myriad problem sets that present because of the pandemic.”

“Good leaders, which I believe exist throughout our community, need great leadership in crisis. Thankfully, that is what Liane Jollon has delivered for our community, exceptional community leadership under the most difficult of circumstances,” said Tom Stritikus, president of Fort Lewis College. “Managing a global pandemic is a 24/7 task and Ms. Jollon’s commitment to our community is unrivaled. There is no call, no concern, no question she will not take.”

After spending the first 15 years of her career in the nonprofit sector, Jollon left to earn her nursing degree. She joined SJBPH as a clinic nurse and quickly demonstrated deep understanding of public health issues and leadership abilities. In 2013, she was named executive director of SJBPH. In 2019, she was selected as the president of CALPHO and helped lead Colorado’s public health response to the pandemic from this position as well.

Bennet and his office have worked with Jollon and other state and local public health leaders throughout the pandemic. In May, Jollon joined Bennet and other leaders for a discussion about the need for a national health force to bolster public health efforts and put Coloradans back to work. In July, Bennet met with Jollon and CALPHO board members to hear about local response efforts and take feedback on how Washington can help. In early October, Bennet joined Jollon for a meeting with Archuleta County leadership where he heard about how the pandemic and economic downturn is putting tremendous strain on their communities.

This story was posted on November 20, 2020.