Gallatin City-County Health Officer to leave, commissioners approve new person for position | Regional

UPDATE: June 8 6:00 p.m. 

BOZEMAN, Mont. – The Gallatin County and Bozeman City Commission voted unanimously to approve Lori Christenson as the next Gallatin City-County Health Officer Tuesday. 

Christenson will step into her new role as health officer immediately. 

Previous Coverage:

BOZEMAN, Mont. – The Gallatin County Commission and Bozeman City commission will meet in two separate regular meetings on Tuesday to discuss and approve the next Gallatin City-County Health Officer.

Current Health Officer Matt Kelley is stepping down on June 6 from his position to become the first chief executive officer of the Montana Public Health Institute after leading Gallatin County through the COVID-19 pandemic and a decade of service before the crisis brought him to the almost daily public eye.

“I wouldn’t have gotten through it without our staff, and when I think about that I talk about that in terms of the incident command, the health department staff… I just want to let them know I couldn’t have done it without them,” Kelly said

His list of thanks went on from the board of health, to the HRDC, as well as the county attorney, staff at the county emergency management team and even Bozeman Fire Department’s Mike Maltaverne.

“No matter what we decided we knew there was going to be significant numbers of people who were unhappy and weren’t going to think very highly of the decision, but we just tried to make the right decision,” Kelley said.

The Gallatin City-County Health Board has recommended their current director of environmental health services, Lori Christenson, to take over as new health officer after already being appointed as the upcoming interim health officer once Kelley leaves.

“It’s hard to leave, I’m sad to leave, but to be able to pass it off to somebody as capable and professional and smart as Lori really makes me feel better about it,” Kelley said.

The Gallatin County Commission will vote on approving Lori Christenson at their regular meeting at 9 a.m. on June 8 followed by the Bozeman City Commission at 6 p.m.

The following is a bio of Lori Christenson from the Gallatin City-County Health Department:

  • Lori Christenson, MPH, RS is currently the Director of Environmental Health Services at Gallatin City-County Health Department in Bozeman Montana. Lori has over 12 years’ experience in Public Health, 7 of those at GCCHD, and has extensive experience in program and prevention management, community leadership and engagement, and emergency preparedness. Prior to joining the Health Department, she worked to address social determinants of health as manager of the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, helping to expand and strengthen programs to address hunger among seniors, children, and others in need. Lori has successfully led quality improvement projects and performance management activities that have resulted in significant process and programmatic improvements. She has extensive experience in community enhancement through the development and facilitation of community coalitions. Lori has managed grants, designed and implemented outreach and mass media campaigns for cancer and tobacco prevention. Lori has taken on leadership roles in the COVID19 pandemic response, using her skills to serve as the Public Information Officer at the start of the pandemic, managed reopening efforts during the pandemic and is currently serving as Planning Section Chief for the Gallatin County COVID19 response. Academically she earned her master’s degree in public health through New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and a BS in Resource Conservation through University of Montana, and is also a State of Montana registered sanitarian.