Joanne Fuller, the director of the Multnomah County Health Department abruptly announced her retirement today—and that retirement is also effective today.
Fuller has led the health department, which has 1,400 employees and a budget of $336 million since 2013. She previously served as the county's chief operating officer.
The move comes on the heels of the county's decision to pay a six-figure settlement to Tricia Tillman, whom Fuller recently fired.
Tillman is African American and her dismissal after what were reportedly glowing personnel reviews brought other county employees forward with complaints about disparate treatment for county employees.
Here's the message she emailed to county staff this morning
As some of you know, I have been thinking about retiring for some time. I have decided that now is the time. I will be leaving my position as Multnomah County Health Department Director at close of business today. I am grateful that it is possible for me to step back from high pressure full time work and pursue my many other passions.
It has been the highest honor for me to work with the wonderful employees of Multnomah County for 29 plus years. Multnomah County employees have a unusual combination of smarts, caring, skills and commitment that makes our local government special. All of you come to work everyday ready to serve our whole community. This community needs you and you are always there. I will miss working with all of you and wish you the very best.
County chair Deborah Kafoury, Fuller's boss, issued a statement on Fuller's retirement.
"For more than 29 years, Joanne has brought a social worker's heart and a CEO's mind to Multnomah County. She's been a tireless champion for people with mental illness and disabilities, for working families and for those in the criminal justice system, especially juveniles. She brought that same steadiness and heart to to the Health Department and we are deeply grateful for her service,'' Kafoury said. "In addition to leading the largest safety net health care provider in Oregon, Joanne steered the Health Department through some of its greatest challenges, including state and federal health reform, integration of Mental Health and the building of a new Gladys McCoy Health Department Headquarters.''