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Epidemiologist to be new director of the Oak Park Department of Public Health

April 26, 2021 – A public health professional with a PhD in epidemiology has been selected to be the new director of the Oak Park Department of Public Health.

Theresa D. Chapple-McGruder, Ph.D., who currently leads the Women’s Health Data and Evaluation team at the Health Resources & Services Administration in Rockville, Md., is scheduled to assume her new role in Oak Park on May 3.

“I am pleased to announce the selection Dr. Chapple-McGruder to lead the Oak Park Health Department,” said Village Manager Cara Pavlicek. “A health professional of her training and experience is uniquely qualified to guide our health department through what continues to be a very challenging time.”

Coming to Oak Park will be a homecoming of sorts for Dr. Chapple-McGruder, who lived in the Village from 2005 – 2009 while pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Illinois Chicago.

“I am excited by the opportunity to return to Oak Park in a leadership role with the municipal government that plays such critical roles in protecting and serving the public,” Dr. Chapple-McGruder said.

“I have had the privilege of advocating for and implementing public health policies and systemic changes at the local, state and federal level. I look forward to helping shape and support programs that benefit local public health initiatives and services by leading the Oak Park Health Department.”

In welcoming Dr. Chapple-McGruder, Pavlicek also recognized the work of Joseph T. Terry, who has led the Village’s response to COVID19 since November 2020 as the Interim Public Health Director.

Terry, who has Master’s Degree in Threat and Response Management from the University of Chicago, stepped into the interim health director role after former Director Mike Charley resigned to become the new Director of Health and Human Services for the Village of Skokie.

“J.T. has done an outstanding job of managing the Village’s response to the pandemic, but I know public health is not his chosen career path,” Pavlicek said.

“His willingness to step away from the Fire Department to lead Oak Park’s efforts to overcome the challenges posed by a worldwide pandemic is commendable. The community and I owe him a great deal of gratitude.”

A governmental and applied epidemiologist, Dr. Chapple-McGruder has spent the majority of her career at local, state and federal health agencies, and with organizations that directly support governmental public health.

During the COVID-19 crises, she has helped school districts craft reopening plans and provided expert consultations to recreational sports teams, news media operations and community-based organizations to help flatten the infection curve and promote vaccination.

Dr. Chapple-McGruder’s education includes a Master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Clark University in Atlanta.

As director of Oak Park’s state-certified local health department, Dr. Chapple-McGruder will oversee an operation that is one of only four municipal health departments in suburban Cook County certified by the state to provide public health programming.

The Oak Park Department of Public Health is responsible for protecting the community's health from preventable death, disease, illness and injury. In addition, the Department identifies community problems and potential epidemics, develops health policies, enforces local ordinances and links residents to or provides a wide range of direct services.

Services provided locally include health assessments and screenings, education, prevention services, case management, nursing, counseling and access to other community resources.

More information about local public health programs is posted on the Village website at

photograph of new Oak Park Public Health Director Dr. Chapple-McGruder
Dr. Chapple-McGruder