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Donald Kauerauf sworn in as Missouri’s health director

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Donald Kauerauf was sworn in as the new director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Wednesday. 

“We are excited to welcome Don to Missouri and look forward to the great work he is sure to accomplish in service to all Missourians,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “Don is no stranger to state government and has more than 30 years of experience in public health and emergency management. It is obvious that he has a firm grasp on public health issues and the COVID-19 crisis, and we are confident in his ability to lead [DHSS].”

Kauerauf was tapped for the role in July after a lengthy tenure with Illinois’ health department. He most recently chaired the Illinois Terrorism Task Force under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency after working for Western Illinois University as the public health and safety intelligence officer. 

As the assistant director of the Illinois health department, Kauerauf oversaw more than 1,000 employees in Chicago and Springfield, seven regional offices, and three laboratories, according to his resume. He also established a public health leadership program within the office. 

Kauerauf oversaw the development and implementation of the country’s first statewide pandemic influenza exercise and authored Illinois’ Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan. He said the experience would benefit him as the country battles rising COVID-19 case rates and the delta variant. 

“Today’s public health requires someone to be able to make quick decisions, be able to weigh all the options, and be able to arrive at a decision to protect the public’s health,” Kauerauf previously said. “Some of the core values of emergency management and public health are the ability to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate. As we have seen during the COVID outbreak, these are core values you must be able to attain.”

Kauerauf has served on the executive board of the Illinois Public Health Association and the executive board of the Lincoln Land Down Syndrome Society. He led the Bureau of Preparedness and Grants Administration for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and served as the chief of the health department’s Division of Disaster Planning and Readiness. 

He also led former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. 

Former Director Dr. Randall Williams resigned in April after more than three years at the helm. Robert Knodell served as acting director while the administration searched for a replacement; he returned to his role in the Governor’s Office Wednesday.