Former Volusia health department administrator appointed to state post


Dr. Celeste Philip has been named the Interim Deputy Secretary for Health and Deputy State Health Officer for Children’s Medical Services (CMS).

Dr. Celeste Philip
Dr. Celeste Philip

She is assuming the role from Dr. Dennis Cookro, who is retiring.

Philip previously served the Florida Department of Health as medical director in Volusia County and Interim Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Communicable Diseases.

“Dr. Philip brings extensive academic and professional experience in public health,” said Dr. John Armstrong, State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health. “I am delighted that she has accepted the call to serve in this way and know that she will add to our Department’s collaborative outreach. I also want to thank Dr. Dennis Cookro for a job well done.”

Vast experience
Philip has served as interim director for the Department of Health in Volusia, Calhoun and Liberty counties. In addition, she was medical director for Polk County’s health department.

While in Lakeland, she chaired the Polk Health Care Alliance Infrastructure Committee and served on the board of the Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, through which she provided primary care to uninsured patients.

She is currently a board member of the Early Learning Coalition of Flagler and Volusia and a steering committee member of the Department of Juvenile Justice Circuit 7 Disproportionate Minority Contact Initiative.

Former CDC officer
Philip’s contributions to public health are not just limited to Florida.

She is also a board member of the American Heart Association’s six-state Greater Southeast Affiliate (GSA) and the Chair of GSA’s Health Equities Committee.

She served at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer where her research focused on sugar-sweetened beverages in schools, national breastfeeding and obesity trends and infant mortality in Mississippi.

Philip also dedicated herself to maternal and child anemia projects in the Philippines and Niger, as well as a nutrition surveillance system in the Dominican Republic.

She graduated from Howard University magna cum laude, with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Spanish. She later received a Master of Public Health in maternal and child health and a Doctor of Medicine from Loma Linda University in California.

Philip completed her residency at Florida Hospital in Orlando and has remained committed to improving health in Florida throughout her career.



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