Rochelle Walensky reflects on experiences as former CDC director

Rochelle Walensky

April 3, 2024 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) faces challenges such as communicating public health policies to the public, modernizing data collection, and having limited governmental authority to collect data, according to Rochelle Walensky, CDC director from 2021–2023 and current Menschel Fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In a March 29 interview with MedPage Today, Walensky discussed accomplishments and challenges during her CDC tenure. One example of a challenge was communicating COVID-19 guidelines that changed as scientists learned more and the virus mutated.

“While people expected things to be stagnant, we had a responsibility to update,” she said. “The other thing that was really tricky is some people very much wanted it simple—‘Tell me what to do and make it easy’—while many other people wanted the nuance: ‘What should I do because I have an elderly mother living at home with me, and my daughter is on an immunosuppressive agent for Crohn’s disease?’”

Walensky added, “We also had forces that were actually actively working against us to send misinformation and disinformation out, and they were trying hard to undermine all of the messaging that we were sending out.”

Walensky was also featured in a March 8 Boston 25 News article.

Read the MedPage Today article: What Is Former CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Doing Now?

Read the Boston 25 News article: ‘Aspirational position’: Dr. Rochelle Walensky reflects on her career and time as CDC Director

Learn more

Walensky shares public health lessons she learned as CDC director (Harvard Chan School news)

Photo: CDC