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Powell - Leadership

Photo: Oona Powell, MA

Oona Powell, MA

Associate Director for Communication

Division of Health Informatics and Surveillance

Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services

Office of Public Health Scientific Services

Oona Powell, MA, brings 27 years of federal experience to her current position of associate director for communication science, Division of Health Informatics and Surveillance (DHIS). During her tenure at CDC, Ms. Powell served as enterprise communication officer for CDC’s Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases, where she oversaw issues management and communication across four of CDC’s national centers. Prior to that, she served as acting chief, Health Communication Branch at CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health where she received the individual CDC/ATSDR Honor Award for Communication Services.

While serving in CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Ms. Powell was lead health communication specialist for the asthma prevention program. Her CDC experience also includes serving as senior press officer for NCEH and as deputy chief of the Community Outreach and Planning Branch at CDC’s National Immunization Program.

Before joining CDC, Ms. Powell served as a natural hazards program specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) where she developed and implemented initiatives to educate state and local officials and other key stakeholders about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and community hazard mitigation strategies. Her work at FEMA included serving on numerous disaster-relief deployments in response to hurricanes, floods, and tornados. Also at FEMA, she served as the first southeastern regional coordinator for FEMA Director James Lee Whitt’s national hazard mitigation initiative called Project Impact: Building a Disaster Resistant Community.

Ms. Powell began her federal career as a public affairs specialist with the Department of the Army where she helped develop initiatives to improve military support to civil authorities during emergency responses. In this role she developed public affairs plans and served on emergency-response deployments after natural disasters such as Hurricane Hugo, South Carolina; Hurricane Andrew, Florida; the Alberto Floods, Georgia; and Hurricane Marilyn, U.S. Virgin Islands. For her accomplishments during these deployments, Ms. Powell was awarded the Civilian Humanitarian Service Medal and the Superior Civilian Service Medal. She also published a newspaper while on deployment that won first place in the Best Field Newspaper category of the Army’s MG Keith L. Ware Journalism Competition.

Ms. Powell taught survey research and statistical analysis as an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, and also received a grant from the Defense Mapping Agency for research with the National Committee for Digital Cartographic Data Standards on developing geographic information systems.

Ms. Powell’s master’s degree is from Virginia Commonwealth University in interdisciplinary studies with concentrations in economics, urban studies and planning, and public administration. Her bachelor’s degree is from Christopher Newport University, Newport News, Virginia, where she double majored in economics and international culture and commerce, and minored in French literature.

Ms. Powell also is a graduate of the United States Department of Defense, Defense Information School (DINFOS) where her studies focused on journalism, crisis communication, and public affairs.