READING - Town Manager Robert LeLacheur yesterday revealed that the community hired veteran public health manager Adetokunbo Solarin as Reading’s first full-time public health director.
According to the town manager and Administrative Services Department Director Matt Kraunelis, Solarin officially began his tenure in Reading on Monday after being wooed away from a nearly identical management post in Danvers.
“Ade has worked in the field of public health for 15 years, joining us from Danvers where he recently served as the heath director with prior experience in Somerville, Oak Bluffs, Lynn and Watertown,” town officials announced in a prepared statement sent to the Reading Chronicle.
The former Danvers health director, who reportedly obtained his master’s degree in public health from Illinois State University, will take over for interim Public Health Director Peter Mirandi, who was designated as the municipality’s temporary department head back in the fall of 2020.
Earlier this month, Board of Health Chairman Dr. Richard Lopez told his colleagues that Mirandi is willing to work with Solarin as he transitions into his new role in Reading.
According to LeLacheur, who first announced the important vacancy had been filled during a Select Board meeting last week, Lopez and others were consulted before the town manager made his final selection.
Solarin is expected to be introduced to the full Board of Health membership during a meeting on Nov. 9. During that gathering, the Board of Heath will reportedly be asked to confirm LeLacheur’s hiring decision by voting to nominate Solarin as the town’s official health agent.
“Special thanks to the Reading Board of Health for their guidance and support as we sought our first director, and especially to Chair Dr. Rick Lopez for his participation in the hiring process. Our deepest appreciation to Interim Health Director Peter Mirandi, Assistant Town Manager Jean Delios, Shuang Shen, R.N., M.P.H, Kristine Harris, Nurse Practitioner, Alyse Warren, Nurse Advocate, and the School Nursing team lead by Mary Giuliana, R.N. who all helped steer us safely through the COVID-19 pandemic for the past year,” said LeLacheur.
“Finally, thanks also to Town Meeting for their wisdom in understanding our new vision and voting to support progressive steps forward, and please join me in welcoming Ade to our community,” the town manager added.
Solarin is taking over the top supervisory role of Reading’s health department during a period of serious transition. Besides stepping into the role in the middle of a pandemic, the new public health director takes over as the community’s past two health agents, who are charged with inspecting restaurants and enforcing other sections of the state’s sanitary code, have moved on to new roles since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
Former Reading Health Agent Daniel Markman most recently tendered his resignation last month, and the Board of Health has agreed to backfill that manpower shortage by hiring independent contractors until a new full-time inspector can be found.
The town’s public health workforce is also in the middle of a larger reorganization that will shift the department away from Town Hall’s public services division and under a newly formed public safety branch.
Under the proposal, the health department as a whole will eventually will be relocated from its Town Hall offices and into a new headquarters within the Reading Police Department.
“The newly created Reading Health Department will reside at Town Hall for several months until their office space renovations, approved by October Special Town Meeting, are complete. Ade will then join Police Chief David Clark and Fire Chief Greg Burns in completing the new three-department Public Safety model, a creative and forward-looking approach approved by April 2021 Town Meeting,” town officials explained in yesterday’s release.
Solarin, who began his career in the public health field as an inspector in Watertown, also has experience working in both urban and rural settings.
His resume includes stints as a sanitation specialist in Lynn, and as a septic system inspector in the state’s Cape Cod area, while he also worked as an inspector in Somerville before accepting his most recent job as health director in Danvers.