Dr. Kisha Davis (left) and Chief Administrative Officer Rich Madaleno at Tuesday's County Council meeting. Credit: Steve Bohnel

After more than a year and multiple candidates were close but ended up not filling the role, Montgomery County has a new permanent health officer.

The County Council voted 8-0 to approve Dr. Kisha Davis as the county’s public health officer. She told Bethesda Beat that she will begin work sometime in mid-December. 

James Bridgers has been serving as the county’s acting health officer since Travis Gayles, the previous one, resigned Sept. 12 of last year. The council introduced a bill on Tuesday that would create a new leadership position for Bridgers, as the division chief of public health services.  

Davis told the County Council in an interview before the vote that she grew up in Montgomery County, and that her ancestors were once slaves in the county. 

She told Bethesda Beat that growing up here will lead to more accountability in the role from the community. She has three children in Montgomery County Public Schools.

“I think that hopefully helps folks see that I’m a real person too, just like them,” Davis said. “And the rules and things that we institute affect me too.”


Davis’ salary will be $200,000 as health officer. Gayles was paid an annual salary of $229,000 when he resigned, and county officials said they were offering up to $250,000 for the health officer position. 

Because the state health secretary also approves the position with the county executive — and because the role is both a state and county position — the state will help pay for a portion of Davis’ salary. County officials previously said the state was covering about 80% of Gayles’ salary when he resigned.