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Dillaha appointed by governor as director of Arkansas Department of Health

Arkansas Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Dillaha has been with the department since 2001.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha has been appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to lead the Arkansas Department of Health as its next director.

She has been with the Arkansas Department of Health since 2001, according to a press release from the governor’s office. Most recently, Dillaha has served as chief medical officer, medical director for Immunization and medical director for Outbreak Response.

“Dr. Dillaha has played a significant role in guiding the state through the last two years of the pandemic,” Hutchinson said. “She has shown her dedication to Arkansas, and I have full confidence that she will continue to lead the state in improved health outcomes with the same dedication.”

Prior to Dillaha being named the new director, Dr. José Romero had been leading the department. Margaret Mirivel, director of communications for the department, said the secretary of health and the director of the Department of Health can be held by the same person. Dillaha will only serve as director; a new secretary of health has yet to be named. The governor’s office announced on May 5 that Renee Mallory, RN, BSN will be the interim secretary of health. Mallory has been with the Arkansas Department of Health for 33 years and is the chief of staff.

“She has invaluable experience serving the state and will be a great fit as interim secretary of health,” Hutchinson said.

As chief of staff, Mallory advised the secretary of health in setting policy for the Department of Health.

Ronak Patel
Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero was congratulated by state lawmakers after a meeting Monday.

Romero’s last day with the state will be Friday. He has accepted a position with the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention as its director of immunization and respiratory diseases.

In an email, Mirivel, said Dillaha's salary as director of the department will be
$230,249.97 and Mallory's will be $186,221.98.

Ronak Patel was a reporter for KUAR News focusing on state and local government.