In late February, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners made Dr. Iulia Vann the interim director of the Guilford County Department of Public Health.

They must have liked what they’ve seen from her job performance so far because now she’s been granted the right to drop “interim” from her title – and the county now has a brand new health director in the middle of a pandemic.

Over the last two months, the commissioners and other county staff have turned to Vann constantly for her advice and guidance as to the best ways to address the COVID-19 crisis that’s dominated the news. Vann has addressed the Board of Commissioners at length at all of their regular meetings since the pandemic began, and she’s been instrumental in, among many other things, forming county policies to fight the coronavirus and implementing virus testing and programs attempting to keep the area’s homeless safe in the crisis.

As the new health director, Vann is filing big shoes. Longtime former Guilford County Health Director Merle Green was highly regarded when she stepped down in late February just a few days before the massive coronavirus tsunami slammed into Guilford County. Vann has served as the interim director – and as a member of the county’s senior management team – since Friday, Feb. 28 of this year. She originally came to work for the county in March 2019 when she took the job of assistant health director.

As interim director, Vann has worked closely with Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing, who had high praise for her this week. Lawing said she brings “extensive and broad experience” to the county government and he added that she has a good deal of experience “collaborating and leading innovative projects and teams inside and outside public health,” which, he said, all makes her the right choice to lead at this time.

“I’m glad we could promote our internal talent,” Lawing said of a practice that Guilford County frequently follows.

The health department, which is part of the Guilford County Health and Human Services Department, has just under 400 employees who work to protect and improve the health of people and the environment in Guilford County, and who try to prevent the spread of disease, protect against environmental hazards, prevent injuries to residents, promote healthy behaviors, respond to health emergencies and ensure the quality and accessibility of health services across the county.

Vann said this week that she’s “excited and honored” by her selection to be the head of what she calls “an amazing public health staff and network of community partners.”

Vann, who speaks several languages, has a medical degree from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila in Bucharest, Romania.

She earned her master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Analysis and Management from East Carolina University.