RACINE COUNTY – Margaret Gesner, Central Racine County Health Department (CRCHD) health officer since 2006, announced Wednesday that she will step down from the position effective Sept. 1 and retire at the end of 2021.
Gesner plans to remain with CRCHD through the end of the year to ensure support for her successor, Jeff Langlieb, and a smooth transition to a Racine County Public Health Division in 2022.
Gesner’s career has included leadership roles in the Arlington, Boston, New York City, and Kenosha Health Departments. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Goshen College and a master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Langlieb, who will become the CRCHD Health Officer starting Sept. 1, has been with CRCHD for more than 10 years, with the majority of his work in management positions. He holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Under Gesner’s leadership, the health department has grown significantly. When the Western Racine County Health Department disbanded at the end of 2014, CRCHD began serving the additional municipalities in that jurisdiction, and today covers 118,184 residents in 14 Racine County cities, villages, and towns. Gesner and her team have secured more than $2 million annually from local, state, and federal grant funding to supplement base funding.
During her tenure, Gesner served as president of the Southeast Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards as well as the Southeast Wisconsin representative to the Wisconsin Public Health Association. In addition, Gesner represented CRCHD on many state and local committees. Most recently, the 30-employee CRCHD went through a rigorous accreditation process, receiving national accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board in 2020, a credential earned by only 18 other local health departments in Wisconsin, and recognition often reserved for much larger departments.
Also in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Gesner and the Central Racine County Board of Health proposed initiating conversations with Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave to possibly bring the CRCHD under Racine County, and this process is now underway to take effect in 2022.
“Margaret Gesner led her department through very difficult circumstances,” Delagrave said in a news release. “I relied on her input as we made decisions that affected the citizens of Racine County, as well as the many companies that do business here. During the height of the COVID-19 crisis, Margaret was a steady hand who provided sound, practical advice. Through her leadership, she has built a program which will have a lasting impact for years to come.”