Dr. Marvia Jones. Photo courtesy City of Kansas City, Mo.

Dr. Marvia Jones has been appointed Director for the Kansas City Health Department. Jones previously served as the Violence Prevention and Policy Manager for the Health Department.  

Jones replaces Rex Archer, who retired in August after 23 years of service to the City.

“My vision for the department is to continue to develop innovative and responsive strategies for public health needs that center the many different communities we serve, even if this means taking a look outside of traditional measures,” Jones said. “Community engagement is integral to public health because it demonstrates to residents that they have value, and that their voice is respected. Community engagement centralizes residents as partners.”

Jones has been working in the field of Public Health for 15 years with a special interest in violence prevention and health policy, both of which were honed during her time at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While at the CDC, she evaluated the effectiveness of prevention tools provided to state and local health departments. In the Policy Office, she developed recommendations for public health best practices, such as the credentialing of community health workers.

Jones earned both her Master of Public Health and her Ph.D from the University of Kansas. Before joining KCHD in 2019, Jones directed programs, policy development and evaluation at Communities Creating Opportunities.

“Dr. Jones will continue the legacy of excellence and leadership by the KCHD, and her expertise will bring a renewed commitment to sustainable violence prevention programs that Kansas City residents are looking for,” said City Manager Brian Platt.

Originally from Florida, Jones has been living in Kansas City for 12 years, except for the two years she spent in Atlanta completing her CDC fellowship.

“Dr. Marvia Jones is the right person to lead Kansas City’s Health Department as we continue our work to build a City for the future: a City committed to equitable healthcare delivery, violence-free neighborhoods, and healthy homes for Kansas City families in all zip codes,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas. “Not only does Dr. Jones have vital and extensive experience in mental health and violence prevention as Kansas City’s Violence Prevention and Policy Manager, she has also worked at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and recognizes the role all levels of health and scientific leadership play in keeping our communities healthy and safe.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, Lucas said he has seen the leadership role the Kansas City Health Department plays in regional policymaking in both Missouri and Kansas, and he is certain Kansas City and its region will look to Jones as they continue their work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Dr. Jones, Kansas City’s first Black woman Health Director, will enhance Kansas City’s longstanding commitment to public health for all Kansas City families — families like mine who relied on the Kansas City Health Department for immunizations and so many other healthcare needs — with a particular understanding of vulnerable populations and those who may have historic distrust of our healthcare systems,” Lucas said. “I look forward to working with Dr. Jones in her new capacity.” 

Jones assumes her new duties on Monday, Feb. 14. She currently oversees a division that includes three dozen employees working across five programs, including violence prevention and community education around COVID-19 mitigation measures. Overall, the Kansas City Health Department employs approximately 200 employees dedicated to public health efforts for our city.