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Day in the Life - Greg Burel

masking tape labeled with Day in the Life

Greg Burel
Date Featured: Monday, November 18, 2013

No day is typical for Acting PHPR Deputy Director, Greg Burel. Mr. Burel works directly with PHPR Director Dr. Ali S. Khan. His role is to manage the day-to-day activities of the PHPR Office of the Director and the management operations for PHPR’s 800 staff and $1.3 billion budget. Read about how in the midst of a busy day, he demonstrated flexibility and successfully juggled the demands of work and family life.

Greg Burel

What time did you wake up? What woke you up?

I woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning and could never get back to sleep. My cat, for whatever reason, decided to come and bounce up and down on my head. She does that occasionally.

Where did you spend your day?

I was on CDC’s campus all day, but running between meetings in several different buildings. My responsibilities changed dramatically with my temporary appointment as acting PHPR Deputy Director. I have been the Director of PHPR’s Division of Strategic National Stockpile since 2007, and my days now as PHPR Deputy Director are quite different — although I still work on Stockpile issues, my focus now is on CDC’s broader preparedness portfolio.

Who did you see or call?

Probably hundreds of people! I talked with several senior leaders during a morning meeting with CDC’s Chief Operating Office; I met with the Anthrax Management Team for a review of the program, which included Dan Sosin, Deputy Director and Chief Medical Officer of PHPR; Bill Digioia, Associate Director for Financial Resources of PHPR; Beth Bell, director of CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID); and a whole host of other people in the room.

What partners did you connect with today?

I connected with Jack Herrmann, Senior Advisor and Chief of Public Health Programs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), to arrange an introduction to Dr. Bradley Dickerson, who is the Acting Associate Director of Policy (ADP) for PHPR. Bradley is on detail from his position as Director of Chemical Security Policy in the Office of Policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where he is responsible for the development and implementation of policies associated with chemical defense, CBRNE counter-terrorism, pandemic preparedness and disease-related border issues. I also connected with Jim Blumenstock, Chief of Public Health Practice at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and Gerrit Bakker, Senior Director of Public Health Preparedness at ASTHO, about the same thing. The policy ADP is critical for our office, serving as the focal point for partnership development, legislative policy and budget formulation, measurement and evaluation, and issues management of public health preparedness and response programs.

Did you unexpectedly meet anyone new today?

In the midst of all my meetings, I knew I had to make a tuition payment for my daughter — who is a freshman as the University of North Georgia. Therefore, the person I unexpectedly met at the end of my day (over the phone) was my daughter’s academic advisor who tried to assist us in fixing this problem, since registration was now closed and payments were due.

What personality trait did you find most useful in your work today?

Adaptability – because I did not expect to be fitting in a conference call at the end of my busy day to deal with my daughter’s registration problem. However, I was happy to have the opportunity to help my daughter since she is clearly an adult now and the opportunities will be fewer and far between in coming years.

What are you reading?

I am reading Anne Hillerman’s novel, Spider Woman's Daughter. The book follows the further adventures of the Navajo detectives made famous by Tony Hillerman, her father. I don’t read anything cerebral—that is how I escape from all this.

What did you snack on today?

Nutter Butter Cookies.

Where/what did you eat for lunch?

I don’t think I ate lunch.

How did you work exercise into your day today?

I was not able to do that, and it bothers me because I try and do something every day. It is interesting, but lately I have not been able to keep up with my exercise. Tomorrow, I’m supposed to go to a 90-minute cycle class and we’ll see if I can make it.

How did you close out your day?

The best part of my day was after I got home, finished my conference call, made everyone go away, and I sat with my dogs.

What most captured your attention today?

When I met with the Anthrax Management Team — they have done really great work and their work can be extended into other activities around this office. What really captured my attention was the large number of smart people who can do a lot of amazing things, but are constrained by financial resources. I find that figuring out how we can get a better balance of the smart people doing the amazing things for the money we have available is getting tougher each year.